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Debunking the myths of palliative care: Dr Raghavendra R


The most important ideology of palliative care is to relieve pain and other stressful signs that have otherwise become a problem to those living with grave and advanced ailment. Apart from addressing agony or other signs systemically, palliative care supports coordinated complex therapeutic care—facilitating patients and relatives to understand their treatment options while each patient expresses their individual aim.

In the fast-changing scenario of health care, palliative care is essentially a comparatively new forte—and because of that, it is often misinterpreted by patients, relatives, and even some doctors. This article aims to debunk the myths associated with palliative care.

Palliative care means the end of life.

Palliative care philosophy is about caring for the patient as a ‘whole entity’ from the start of diagnosis. Initiation of palliative care does not mean the doctors have given up on the patient. It means facilitating the patients with the best possible quality of life, empowering them to bear the therapeutic treatment better. If the patient is not receiving any curative treatment for the diseases, it does not mean all treatment is stopped. It means treatment, support and care continue, with a different goal of continuing to keep the best possible quality and dignity of life till the end.

Palliative care means hospice care.

Palliative care is a holistic specialty care intended to support patients with a grave or severe illness since the time of diagnosis including treatments and hospitalizations. On the other hand, hospice care supports people with a terminal illness who are no longer seeking healing treatments. Palliative care aids patients to increase life quality during their treatment.

It’s imperative to understand that palliative care is not a hospice-centered facility. In other words, the palliative crew doesn’t advocate someone into hospice but comprehends how to guard the patient and be an advocate for them.

Palliative care is only used to treat pain

Pain is a common reason for a palliative care referral and often pain medications are prescribed to ease pain. However, palliative care looks to use medications and non-medications to treat pain such as complementary therapies and other types of non-pain medications that help with pain. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, anxiety, depression, itching, restlessness are other symptoms individuals could be experiencing apart from pain that would qualify them for a palliative care consult

Even patients suffering from non-physical issues such as anxiety, depression, spiritual distress, and other concerns that may impact quality of life of patient and their near ones can be referred to palliative care.

Palliative care is just for people with terminal cancer.

Palliative care can aid patients with literally any grave illness at any period of any disease and cancer is one among them. For instance, palliative care is for people with kidney, liver, lung and heart disease, diabetes, dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, among many others.

Palliative care is the beginning of the end

Palliative care ensures that the patient has the best quality of life till the very end. It offers physical, emotional, social and spiritual help the patient and their relatives. Research shows that patients with terminal illness and get palliative care have enhanced quality of life. They also tend to live longer than people with the same last-stage illness who do not receive palliative care

In a nutshell palliative care:

Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;

Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;

Neither aims to hasten or postpone death;

Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;

Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.


The author is Lead Consultant-Palliative Care & Rehabilitation medicine, Aster RV Hospital


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