The Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice

[ 0 ] August 15, 2014 |

When dealing with a serious illness, the most important thing to do is to make sure you are getting the right kind of treatment. In the end, medical care is all about extending the number of years you have left. 

WATCH Mount Sinai’s Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national organization devoted to increasing the number and quality of palliative care programs in the United States, discuss the difference between palliative care and hospice care, and how the focus is increasing a patient’s quality of life:  

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“It’s a place where most people remain very confused,” Meier about the difference between palliative care and hospice care.

1314374673137“Palliative care is a new medical specialty that’s focused on maximizing the quality of life for the patient and the family while they are living with a serious illness,” Meier explains. Whether that illness can be cured, whether it’s chronic – something they can live with for a really long time – or whether it’s a progressive disease, she adds, the goal is to offer them as much comfort as possible.

But hospice is a form of palliative care that is limited only to the dying. Hospice care has restrictive rules to lower the cost of the medical expenses. But when determining which type of care to offer a certain patient, it’s not always easy to classify who is definitely dying from who is not. Some people who think they may die in a month, for example, may actually live three years, whereas others who think they have three years to live may not make it a month.

“It’s not predicable, we just don’t have that ability,” Meier said.

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Palliative care was created to fill the gaps that the strict rules of hospice could not fill – helping people manage pain, symptoms, and the stress associated with their condition. There were too many people living with serious illnesses that also needed the type of care hospice provided but weren’t within the strict guidelines that receiving hospice required, Meier explained.

Meier points out that the conceptual model, no matter what kind of disease is diagnosed, is that a patient receives both treatment and palliative care.

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About Diane Meier: Dr. Diane E. Meier is Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national organization devoted to increasing the number and quality of palliative care programs in the United States. Under her leadership [...]
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