Frequently confused with hospice care, this speciality’s scope is broader
Maggie Riley is never sure which patients she’ll treat. A palliative care nurse practitioner at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, she could be called to consult with seriously ill patients and their families in any unit at the facility.
Before she can help them, however, she has to explain who she is and why she’s there. Seventy percent of the public don’t know anything about palliative care, according to a 2011 Public Opinion Research Strategies survey. And many of those who are familiar with the term associate it only with hospice or end-of-life care. Its scope is actually much broader.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care. Focusing on providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of seriously ill people, the goal of palliative care practitioners is to improve quality of life for patients and their families. Doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains work with a patient’s primary care team to provide an extra layer of support to patients of any age, in any stage of serious illness. More @ The Atlanta Constitution.