Keeping patients calm and comfortable during treatment of a serious illness—that’s the goal of palliative care. “Often patients are fearful when they hear the term palliative care because it’s often associated with hospice. We are trying to dispel some of that fear because quality at any stage of an illness is important,” said Dr. Jonathan Von Koenig, a palliative care physician with Lee Health.
Palliative care is a specialty that helps patients diagnosed with a serious illness better cope with their treatment, whereas hospice care is a form of palliative care for patients facing the end of life. “Hospice is a different focus of care that usually does not follow along with trying to fix the underlying problem and is good for people at the end of their life,” explained Dr. Von Koenig.
Palliative care gets involved early when the patient is diagnosed. “We are adding an extra layer of support for patients and their families to help minimize distressing symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and the emotional aspects that go with a serious illness,” he said.
When treatment of the disease is stopped, and it’s clear the person is not going to survive the illness, that’s when palliative care ends, and hospice care may come into play. “Hospice care is provided by a hospice organization in a patient’s home or nursing facility or at hospice facilities, and it’s geared towards people at the end of life,” said Dr. Von Koenig.
Two different specialties that focus on keeping patients comfortable through a serious medical illness.
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