Though the concept is not new, the term “palliative care” remains somewhat obscure: A 2011 national poll showed 86 percent of Americans were familiar with hospice care, but only 24 percent said they had even heard of palliative care.
To cover hospice services, Medicare and insurers typically require that patients have a terminal illness from which they are expected to die within six months and agree to forgo curative treatments. Patients can always drop out of the program to pursue aggressive care, but they will lose the services hospice provides.
Patients seeking non-hospice palliative care don’t have to make such difficult choices. They may or may not have a life-limiting illness, but it must be serious or complex enough to need the attention of a team of doctors, nurses, social workers and often spiritual counselors to help manage the pain and symptoms of the disease.
“Our job is to manage pain – whether it’s spiritual, social or physical,” said the Rev. Betty Clark, chaplain for Alameda County Medical Center‘s palliative care team, who visits patients three days a week. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Palliative-therapy-teams-coordinate-care-4349697.php#ixzz2NvVZm65w