WHAT IS Palliative Care?

Palliative care, also known as supportive care, comes from the Latin root pallium, which refers to an outer garment that cloaks a person. Palliative care “cloaks” the symptoms of illness, adding quality to each day. (1) Delivered by an interdisciplinary team, including a patient’s individual physician, palliative care physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, psychologists and pharmacists, palliative care is designed to help patients diagnosed with serious and life-limiting illness.

Palliative care is different from Hospice care, as it is appropriate at any age, from pediatrics to geriatrics, and at any stage of a serious illness. It can be used in conjunction with curative treatment such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Hospice is appropriate when a person is diagnosed with a terminal condition and their life expectancy is less than 6 months.

Sheri M Kittelson

Sheri M Kittelson MD

Professor, Palliative Care; Chief, Division Of Palliative Care Department Of Medicine