Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.
It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
Palliative care can be delivered by health care professionals who are palliative care specialists, such as physicians who are board certified in this specialty; palliative-certified nurses; and palliative care-certified social workers, pharmacists, and chaplains. Health care professionals who are not palliative care specialists, such as primary care clinicians; physicians who are disease-oriented specialists (such as oncologists and cardiologists); and nurses, social workers, pharmacists, chaplains, can also deliver care but are not certified in palliative care. SOURCE: The Institute of Medicine