Palliative care physicians lead an integrated team of healthcare professionals whose prime mission is the alleviation of pain and distressing symptoms, whether or not a cure for the disease is possible. For decades, the palliative care team was only available to patients in the hospital. Doctors Making Housecalls now brings this enormously valuable service home to patients who need it.
Palliative care is formally defined by the World Health Organization as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”
People sometimes confuse “hospice” and “palliative care.” They are actually quite different. While both disciplines strive to alleviate pain and empower the patient to lead as active and fulfilling a life as possible, hospice care is reserved for those with a prognosis of only six months or less to live. Palliative care is for patients of all ages, and at any disease stage, whether that illness is curable, chronic, or terminal.
Common adult conditions that utilize non-hospice palliative care are cancer, kidney disease, dementia, diabetes, and stroke, to name a few. Children with birth defects, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and many other conditions also benefit from palliative care
Palliative medicine not only treats the patients with the disease, it also helps the patient’s family and caregivers, be they family or friends, bear the burden of the illness and its symptoms. Addressing the emotional and spiritual aspects of the healing process is an integral part of palliative care treatment. A key benefit of the palliative care approach is that the doctor will take the time to discuss and clarify the goals of care with the patient and loved ones, to ensure that everyone understands the reasons behind each treatment decision that is made.
Perhaps the most important feature of palliative care is that it works! One recent example: A 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that lung cancer patients who received palliative care early in their treatment had a better quality of life, suffered less depression, and lived more than two months longer than those who received standard oncologic care.
Most Palliative Medicine specialists work in hospitals, but DMHC’s palliative care team comes to your home or business. If you are in pain, nauseated, or just plain exhausted, you do not have to summon up the resources to drive to an office or sit in a waiting room. DMHC will come to you. You will receive the expert attention and compassionate care characteristic of all DMHC services.
It’s what we do…because it’s what our patients want.