Palliative Care Puts Humanity at the Heart of Medicine

Palliative medicine specialists and their partners across many teams are putting the goals, perceptions, hopes and desires of patients and their families at the center of the conversation. Everyone benefits.

Their procedure is noninvasive. It requires no technology, and it can be performed in any setting.

To a palliative care provider, this is no riddle:Their procedure is conversation.

“As palliative medicine specialists, our procedure is the family meeting,” said John J. Goodill, M.D., FACP, FCCP, chief of Christiana Care’s Hospice and Palliative Medicine section. At its heart, palliative care is about skilled communication among team members, patients and families, he said. The palliative care team’s advance practice providers, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants, help deliver most inpatient palliative care consults. For patients with serious illness, they provide care that aligns with their priorities and improves their quality of life.

The team uses honest conversations to build relationships and trust, so that patients are comfortable sharing their values and goals. Palliative care complements curative treatment at any stage, and patients who are exposed to it earlier benefit the most by using their priorities to chart the road ahead. 

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