Some definitions …

In talking with people across the country about end-of-life care issues, oftentimes I am asked about definitions of some of the most widely-used terms in this arena of health care, including palliative care and hospice.  ‘What’s the difference?’, people ask.

Here’s a brief reflection:  The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)(www.nhpco.org) defines palliative care as: “treatment that enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life during the last phase of life.”  One of the key distinctions between palliative care and hospice is that a standard hospice benefit under Medicare applies when a patient’s physician and the hospice medical director certify that a patient has a life expectancy of six (6) months or less, based on the ‘normal’ progression of the disease.  As representatives of Hospice Austin describe, while all hospice care is considered a part of palliative care, not all palliative care is hospice care. 

…Just some definitional food for thought which might be helpful as we think about end-of-life care times we all face.

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