It’s fairly common to confuse palliative care with hospice care, especially in the non-medical community. There are similarities, yes, but there are also important differences. More rehabilitative in nature, palliative care is not end-of-life care. A patient under palliative care has not reached a stage where his or her disease is considered terminal and therefore may elect to continue curative treatments. In addition, palliative care is not dictated by strict definition protocol, as is hospice care.
Centers on patients actively seeking curative treatment
Focuses on providing relief from physical suffering
Is appropriate for patients in various disease stages
Works to take the patient from diagnosis to cure
Uses a multi-disciplinary approach with numerous trained professions to provide treatment
Focuses on those who are not seeking curative treatment at the end stages of an incurable illness
Is available to terminally ill patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months
Provides comfort care to the patient to guide through the end-of-life stages
Does not focus on life-prolonging care or medication
Patients receiving palliative care often experience decreased pain, improvement of appetite, less anxiety, and more strength and guidance to make decisions surrounding their quality of life. Specialists and primary care physicians often have a larger role in palliative care based on the patient’s wishes.