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Palliative Care Definition

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Updated June 20, 2014

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Definition: Palliative care is an area of medicine that does not aim to cure a health problem, rather the goal is to reduce the severity of symptoms or slow the progress of the disease. The goals of palliative care include relieving pain, symptom relief and providing emotional support.

While hospice is a form of palliative care, a patient receiving palliative care may not necessarily be a hospice patient. In hospice, the patient is expected to have a life-span of six months or less, and is receiving end of life care. A palliative patient may have many years of life ahead and is not necessarily nearing the end of their life.

Palliative care also provides emotional support, as does hospice, for family and caregivers, along with the patient in many cases.

Surgery, in some circumstances, can be a palliative measure if it is done to relieve pain or symptoms rather than curing the problem.

Pronunciation: pall-ee-uh-tive
Also Known As: hospice, palliative surgery,
Common Misspellings: paliative, pallative, pallitive,
Examples:
The patient knew there was no cure for emphysema, but palliative care could help make the disease more tolerable.
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