Looking at death and dying from a medical perspective would not be complete without a discussion involving the roles and value of Palliative Medicine.
The following is Part 2 in a series about end-of-life care. For Part 1, see here. This article addresses my own experience on a Palliative Medicine elective in my fourth year of medical school.
Despite the growing number of U.S. hospitals with Palliative Care teams, there remains a real lack of understanding about the benefit that specialized Palliative Care providers can bring for patients with advanced illness. This form of care is especially valuable in patients with end-stage illness (and has even been shown to extend life by several months), but it can also help any patient at any stage of illness (regardless of prognosis). Indeed, even prescribing an NSAID for headache can be considered a form of palliation. The focus is about improving quality of life now instead of later.
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