What is palliative care and how does it differ from hospice?

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St.Louis Public Radio | April 11, 2016

The term “palliative care” has been bandied about quite a bit as of late. But what does it mean? On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, three people joined host Don Marsh to discuss what palliative care means and how it differs from hospice care.

Joining the program to discuss palliative care:

Maria Dans, MD, clinical director of Palliative Care Services at Washington University School of Medicine
Patrick White, MD, medical director of BJC Hospice
Barbara Westland, RN, director of BJC Hospice

What is palliative care, exactly?

“It is something that builds on traditional medical care,” said Dans. “There is the use of an interdisciplinary team. We’ve got a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain and we’re working together to help patients and families. Most of these people have life-limiting, serious illnesses. Obviously, there are a number of challenges that go along with that. Not simply physical symptoms but also spiritual, psycho-social, financial issues. Palliative care is not prognosis-limited. As long as you have a serious illness, our team will be happy to see you.”

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice?

“The practical difference between palliative care and hospice is that palliative care tends to be provided on an in-patient basis in acute-care hospitals,” Dans said. “Most places that have a palliative care program have an in-patient consultative program as opposed to hospice which is provided in a long-term care facility or in people’s homes.”

Read the rest of the interview here