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What is Palliative Care?

Katie: Alright. Our next question is for Dr. Frank. Sam, what is palliative care?

Dr. Sam Frank: First let me just say that palliative care is different than hospice. Those are two very different ideas. I think a lot of people confuse the two of those. Hospice is really kind of end of life care, so I don't think I need to go into that. Palliative care, is basically everything else that we do that doesn't have to do with the dying process or administering good care. It focuses on improving life, on providing comfort, to people of all ages with any kind of serious chronic or life-threatening disease. Whatever we can do to provide relief from the symptoms of that illness really is palliative care.

Everything that we do, that isn't curative, is really under the umbrella of palliative care. With a goal of improving quality of life, and reducing pain, and improving function. You can argue actually that most of medicine actually is palliative care. I think that many times we get palliative care specialists involved. At least, I do, from a neurological perspective, when there are a lot of other issues that need to be addressed. For example, I work with a palliative care doc and I get him involved when there's issues of constipation and skin issues. They often address mood and caregiver stress. Some people call it the non-motor side of things. I think it's a lot broader than that. I think this is where nurses in particular can have a strong role in the care of patients.

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