Center to Advance Palliative Care

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What Patients Want

Health consumers demand high standards of care and an active role in their treatment. Increasingly, hospitals are expected to deliver this level of care in the areas of pain and symptom management.

Many patients need palliative care services while they are receiving life-prolonging or curative treatments. In addition, experience shows that for patients nearing the last stages of life, hospice care is appropriate. Palliative care programs work in tandem with hospice programs to coordinate care for appropriate patients.

In its annual ranking of hospitals, U.S. News & World Report now includes the presence of palliative care services in its evaluation criteria.

Numerous studies of people with serious illness show they want the types of services that palliative care provides.

Patients want vigorous treatment of their pain and symptoms.
  • Pain is the most common and widely feared symptom of hospital patients.
  • Untreated pain results in medical complications, increased length of hospital stay, unnecessary suffering, increased use of health care resources, and decreased patient satisfaction.
  • Over 90% of pain episodes and other symptoms can be effectively treated with standard analgesic therapies provided and closely monitored by a palliative care program.
Patients want relief from worry, anxiety, and depression.
  • A leading symptom of patients with advanced illness is anxiety and depression.
  • These sources of suffering can be effectively treated to promote the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.
Patients want communication about their care over time.
  • Patients want a voice in their care.
  • They want clear, ongoing communication with their physicians and other health care providers about what to expect and how to plan for their treatment and their future.
Patients want coordinated care throughout the multiple-year course of an illness.
  • As patients live with advanced illness, they need help navigating the medical system and coordinating among their health care providers and care settings.
Patients want support for family caregivers.
  • Seriously ill patients are anxious to reduce burdens on their loved ones and want help involving their family in care decisions.
Patients want practical support.
  • Patients and families need help locating and accessing home health services, aides, nutrition support, and transportation.
Patients want a sense of safety in the health care system.
  • Recent surveys show concern among patients about the possibility of medical errors and lack of coordination of their care during their hospital stays.
  • Palliative care patients report feeling their care is closely monitored and well communicated.