What patients would benefit most from a palliative care consult? — Lenore Magrum, ARNP-C, Fairfax, Va.

Anyone suffering from a serious illness can benefit from palliative care. These illnesses include, but are not limited to, cancer, cardiac disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, kidney failure, Alzheimer disease, HIV/AIDS and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Palliative care helps people gain the strength to carry on with daily life and improves the ability to tolerate medical treatments. It also enables patients to have more control over their care by improving their understanding of treatment options.

In palliative care, a team of specialists works together with a patient’s regular clinicians to provide an extra layer of support. The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for individuals facing the pain, symptoms, and stresses of a serious illness. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of an illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

The ultimate goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and his or her family. The Center to Advance Palliative Care is a good source of information on this important topic. — Deborah L. Cross, MPH, CRNP, ANP-BC (170-2)