"Palliative care is not about death and dying or just pain management," said Sarah Friebert, MD, at a morning breakout session on Tuesday at HM12. Rather, she said, palliative care is a method of holistic care delivery for individuals with chronic, complex, and/or life-threatening conditions.
"There is a role for [palliative] subspecialty care" beyond just "good care," said Dr. Friebert. It is a model of shared management with other caregivers that is similar to other models of chronic disease. Additionally, palliative care has evolved to embrace an integrated model, such that palliation is longitudinally woven together with care for curing, dying, and bereavement.
Families continue to have many unmet needs, and hospitalists should provide them with clear and honest communication. Involving the palliative care team early on in the course of the illness is important to facilitate effective care.
- Palliative care is not code for "hospice."
- Other care (providers and treatment) does not need to be given up.
- Early integration of the palliative care team is essential.
- Consider using triggers to prompt referral to palliative care.
Dr. Shen is medical director of hospital medicine and assistant professor of pediatrics at UTMB Austin Pediatrics and Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.