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In the Clinic |

Palliative Care

Keith M. Swetz, MD; and Arif H. Kamal, MD
Ann Intern Med. 2012;156(3):ITC2-1. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-156-3-201202070-01002
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Palliative medicine focuses on quality of life and the alleviation of symptoms in patients with serious illness. It aims to consider the physical, mental, spiritual, and social well-being of patients and their families in order to maintain hope while ensuring patient dignity and respecting autonomy. Palliative care medicine encompasses both consultative palliative care for patients with serious illnesses, and hospice care for patients at the end-of-life (EOL). Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness whether the goal is cure or maximizing quality of life. It is a fundamental component of the practice of medicine in all disciplines and at all levels of health. When cure or life prolongation is no longer possible, palliative care becomes the central component of treatment. Whereas hospice is only appropriate for patients whose prognosis is 6 months or less, consultative palliative care can assess and treat patients anywhere along the chronic disease trajectory, regardless of prognosis.

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