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Palliative Medicine

Palliative medicine (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized care that aims to improve quality of life for those with a serious illness by adding an extra layer of support to provide relief from the symptoms and stress of illness.

Palliative medicine focuses on relieving symptoms from a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or stage of disease. Often people, even in the medical field, hear palliative care and associate it with hospice and dying. This is not true. Palliative medicine is for anyone who would benefit from focused symptom management.

Palliative medicine is provided by an interdisciplinary team, such as a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, nurse, social worker, or chaplain, and can be provided alongside treatment at any stage of illness. Palliative medicine can be provided in various settings (for example, a physician’s office, at home, or at the hospital), depending on a patient’s needs.

Palliative medicine includes:

  • Symptom management to provide relief from pain, nausea, shortness of breath, emotional distress, anxiety, and depression, among others
  • Emotional support for a patient, their family, and/or a caregiver
  • Advance care planning
  • Discussions around care goals
  • Referrals to appropriate supportive services or care coordination

 

Palliative medicine may be right for you if you suffer from pain, stress, or other symptoms from cancer or serious illness. Palliative medicine teams will work alongside your doctors to provide an extra layer of support for you and your family. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative medicine.

Talk to your care team for more information.

Quan T. Dang, M.D. and Louis Joseph Lux, M.D., FAAHPM, are physicians in Austin that specialize in palliative medicine.