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What is Palliative Medicine?

By |2024-04-12T09:24:09-04:00April 12th, 2024|Categories: Healthy Aging|Tags: , |

Many patients and their families are hesitant to seek palliative care services because it’s often confused with hospice. While both types of care focus on patient comfort, there are distinct differences. Vikranta Sharma, MD, a hospice and palliative medicine specialist at CentraState, provides her perspectives.

What is palliative care?
Palliative medicine aggressively manages symptoms and treatment side effects experienced by people with serious illnesses. Care is focused on managing pain and other symptoms holistically by attending to each patient’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs while undergoing curative treatment. This includes assistance with activities of daily living, transportation, medication support, goal-setting, transition planning and advance care planning.

What’s the difference between palliative and hospice care?
The biggest difference is the goal of treatment. Hospice care is provided
to patients who are no longer seeking a cure for a terminal, incurable illness. In contrast, palliative care is often part of the care plan for patients receiving curative treatment for serious illnesses. In both cases, care is provided by an interdisciplinary team.

When should a patient seek palliative care?
Palliative care is recommended for those struggling to perform three or more activities of daily living. These activities include bathing, eating, dressing, getting in and out of bed, walking and using the toilet. Palliative care specialists help patients and their families make informed decisions.

What is hospice?
Hospice helps terminally ill patients live comfortably with family or other caregivers’ support. Most often provided in the patient’s home, it can also occur in hospitals, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. An interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains and volunteers provides specialized management of pain and other symptoms. Social and spiritual support is also available as needed. A home health aide assists with personal care needs, and the hospice team is accessible by phone 24/7. Providers work with patients and their families to anticipate symptoms, plan ahead and provide comfort.

Through these services, CentraState is committed to patient- and family-centered care and optimizing the quality of life for people with serious illnesses.


To learn more about the palliative care services at CentraState, visit the page here.

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