Palliative care is a medical specialty focusing on enhancing the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses and their loved ones. It focuses on effective communication, coordination of care, and relief from pain, stress and other debilitating symptoms. Palliative care customizes treatment to fit each patient’s needs, because there are a variety of illnesses and patients respond differently to treatment options. This type of care can be given at any time during a patient’s illness, because it is not dependent on the prognosis.
Hospice always provides palliative care, although palliative care is not limited to hospice care. Hospice uses palliative care to help eliminate the pain and suffering associated with a terminal illness. Hospice and palliative care may assist in prolonging the lives of patients with a terminal illness or disease. In a 2007 study, the mean survival was 29 days longer for hospice patients than for non-hospice patients.
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