What are Palliative Care and Palliative Medicine?

The word 'palliative' means 'to comfort' or 'to soothe,' and that's the main focus of the health care providers who attend to individuals with serious illness. Palliative care at its most basic seeks to provide relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Carolina Caring makes a distinction between palliative care and palliative medicine. Palliative care is customarily provided at the end of life. Palliative medicine, however, is akin to medical sub-specialties like cardiology and is a plan of care to enhance the lives of people who have long-term (not terminal) diseases or who are seeking curative treatments for their disease. Palliative medicine does not come with the expectation of imminent death and is expected to be an ongoing source of symptom control and pain relief. Palliative medicine – often described by industry professionals as advanced care, supportive care, or an extra layer of care – varies according to what each patient needs. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness.