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Palliative Care

Last Updated 6/26/2012 11:40:27 AM


Palliative care is for patients and families confronting serious illness such as lung, heart and kidney disease, cancer and dementia. The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering, and to promote the best possible quality of life as determined by patients and their families. Palliative care can begin any time during an illness and can be combined with life prolonging treatments as well as with treatments aimed at a cure.

Palliative CarePalliative Care Service

El Camino Hospital’s palliative care service is an interdisciplinary team of care providers, including physicians, pain specialists, nurses, social workers, and spiritual care providers. Working closely with patients and their families, the team helps support patient goals and wishes and enhance quality of life through the integration of physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual aspects of care.

Palliative care and hospice care have similar goals: to alleviate physical, emotional and spiritual suffering and enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Palliative care:

  • Should be offered at the time of diagnosis of a serious illness but is appropriate at any stage of a patient’s treatment
  • Is offered concurrent with life prolonging and curative treatment
  • Can be provided in the hospital or community setting

Hospice care:

  • Is for patients with an advanced illness and life prognosis of six months or less
  • Is for patients for whom life prolonging or curative therapies are no longer beneficial
  • Is usually provided at home or in a specialized care facility

Learn more about hospice care provided by Pathways Home Health, Hospice & Private Duty.

Benefits of Palliative Care

Palliative care facilitates planning and decision making on the part of patients and their families by:

  • Exploring patient goals and wishes
  • Clarifying medication and treatments
  • Promoting communications with the health care team
  • Supporting the completion of an advance directive
  • Discussing pain and symptom management and the meaning of comfort care
  • Providing information and support regarding home care, skilled nursing, or hospice care

Physical Symptoms

The pain and discomfort that accompany serious illnesses can adversely impact quality of life. The palliative care team is committed to alleviating symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Delirium

Psychosocial and spiritual symptoms

A serious illness takes an emotional toll on both patients and their families. Palliative care takes these psychosocial and spiritual symptoms into account and can help patients and their loved ones cope with difficult emotions:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression, hopelessness and isolation
  • Anticipatory grief and bereavement

Initiating palliative care

A palliative care consultation is provided upon receipt of an order from an attending physician. The palliative care team makes recommendations to the attending physician and follows the patient during their hospital stay. The primary responsibility of care remains with the patient’s physician.

For more information about El Camino Hospital’s palliative care service, please call 650-988-7624, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.