Palliative Care, The Victory of Life While it Lasts

“Hospice does not give day to life, but gives life to days”. The phrase is usually spoken by professionals working in the care of patients with severe and intractable to explain the purpose of this medical field still little known. Some believe it is something innocuous, which will shorten the life of the patient, causing him to give up curative treatment and other medical resources that technology offers. Not so. Hospice does not seek to shorten or prolong life. Its focus is not the disease. It is the patient, the human being in their physical, psychological, social and spiritual. 

Stop chemotherapy? Suspend hemodialysis? Not be intubated or sedated? Are difficult choices for those with death before them, but the patient is entitled to them. In any case the mission of palliative medicine is to ensure comfort, dignity and quality of life for patients and their families. 

Palliative care is recognized by the Regional Board of Medicine as a patient’s right.Your new Code of Medical Ethics states that “in clinical situations irreversible and terminal, the doctor will avoid carrying out unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and allow the patients under their care all appropriate palliative care.” 

A growing number of institutions has an area of palliative care, with doctors from various specialties, nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, physical therapists and social workers.Working seamlessly with the main medical staff, the task of this group is to provide comprehensive assistance to the patient – in hospital or at home. Care includes medicines and therapies to relieve pain and symptoms, nutrition, hydration and hygiene and other resources to ensure the highest possible welfare, as well as support in the emotional or spiritual perspective and up practical services. 

But who defines what is the time to stop curative treatment or palliative care to just adopt? Decisions like these are taken as shared. The dialogue is key to ensure that actions respecting the autonomy and dignity of patients and their right to choices (including not wanting to undergo certain treatments and procedures) and to define their priorities, needs and goals. It is for the palliative care team listen to the patient and family members, explain the impact of their choices, provide alternatives and act on their decisions. 

Ideally, the patient’s physician activate the area of palliative care as soon diagnosed a serious illness, incurable, initiating the dialogue was at this time. The assistance of the palliative care team will continue in parallel to medical treatment, extending also to the family. In the initial phase of the disease, curative medicine has a predominant role. In advanced stages, is palliative care that make a difference, humanizing the care and bringing comfort, care and affection. They can not give life more days of the patient. But it certainly gives more life to your days.

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