What is Palliative Medicine?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Palliative medicine is the term used to describe the type of care often provided for people with a serious disease that cannot be cured. It is usually associated with the treatments used to reduce symptoms when a patient is near death, but palliative treatments can be received at any point during a terminal or incurable disease. The goal of this type of medicine is to manage symptoms that occur to make the patient more comfortable and gain better mobility.

When a person suffers from a disease that cannot be cured, symptoms occur from two sources. First, the symptoms can come from the disease. Second, there are completely different types of symptoms that occur as a result of treatments that reduce the disease, such as cancer control treatments which cause nausea and other symptoms. Palliative medicine works on relieving both types of symptoms.

Although palliative medicine is generally used to deal with symptoms that occur in conjunction with a terminal condition, many doctors often use it to help relieve symptoms for patients who have diseases that can be cured. During a comprehensive plan of treatment for curable conditions, reducing symptoms can make the treatment more productive, which also allows a higher success rate. Ultimately, a patient is more comfortable, less stressed, and relaxed.


Palliative medicine is detailed, covers several areas, and involves multiple doctors, therapists, and specialists. A treatment plan that utilizes palliative care will not only deal with physical symptoms but also psychological, social, and spiritual health. A patient with a terminal or chronic illness suffers through much more than just typical symptoms. Patients, as well as immediate family members, often experience doubt, fear, and question beliefs. Palliative care helps patients and their families overcome and work through it all, allowing the treatments to work better, and palliative care does not always end when a condition is cured.

Hospice care and palliative medicine are often confused with each other, but they are completely different. The term hospice care refers to palliative care that is provided to people who are dying from a disease or condition. Hospice care is provided mainly in a hospital-based setting, including short term respite care facilities and residential homes.

Immediately following a confirmed diagnosis of a life altering illness, a cluster of various doctors will create a comprehensive plan that addresses each aspect of the illness. Although these plans will be different for each type of doctor or therapist, ultimately they are joined to all work together. It is not uncommon for the different medical professionals on a team to contact each other to check on the patient’s success or progress in another area. All of the parts must work together to best benefit the patient.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?