Palliative Care

Palliative Care is an interdisciplinary team approach that focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients with serious illness. Provided simultaneously with other medical treatments, Palliative Care assures comfort, dignity and quality of life. This type of care offers an additional level of support for patients and families as they negotiate the health care system.

Who is the Palliative Care team?

John C. Lincoln Palliative Care

Team members include physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, chaplains and other professionals with specialized training and expertise in helping patients with serious illness or injury.

The Palliative Care team:

  • Ensures that the patient's wishes and goals of care are in line with the treatment plan.
  • Enhances communication by arranging family meetings with the health care team, as needed.
  • Provides guidance and support during overwhelming clinical situations.
  • Contributes to shared understanding and resolution of differing opinions regarding goals of care, advance directives (documents that spell out the kind of medical care the patient would want if he/she were too ill or hurt to express his/her wishes) and treatment choices.
  • Helps patient and family manage difficult physical, spiritual or emotional distress.
  • Works closely with the patient's physicians and other members of the health care team.

When is Palliative Care appropriate?

This type of care is appropriate when:

  • Chronic or terminal illness is diagnosed.
  • Uncontrolled pain or other symptoms exist in conjunction with a chronic illness or terminal condition.
  • Psychological, social or spiritual distress exists.
  • The patient or family needs help understanding the diagnosis, disease process or the risks/benefits/burdens of various treatment choices.
  • The patient or family needs help with decision making and determining care goals.
  • Clarification is needed for advance directives or code status (procedures that can be performed if the heart stops or the lungs fail).
  • A decision regarding a tracheotomy (a surgical opening in the neck to help the patient breathe) or feeding tube is pending.
  • A respiratory or cardiac arrest has occurred.
  • Cancer has spread to other areas of the body or when a locally advanced cancer is diagnosed.