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Palliative Care

“Almost every family has or will face a loved one needing cancer care, including curative treatment, symptom control and end-of-life care. Patients and families need the united services of physicians, nurses, chaplains and social workers, and there is a real need for health professionals to be educated in an interdisciplinary manner to prepare them for the real-world team environments they experience once they are in practice.”

— Dr. Mark Pfeifer, UofL Health Care chief medical officer



What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a specialized care delivered by a team of health professionals. The goal of palliative care is to maximize comfort and quality of life for patients experiencing life-changing or life-limiting illnesses. Palliative care is available at any stage of illness, not exclusively the end of life.


The palliative care team can assist with:


  • Managing distressing symptoms
  • Clarifying treatment options
  • Providing support through all stages of illness
  • Facilitating communication among patients and those who care for them
  • Establishing advance directives


When is palliative care helpful?

During a hospital stay, patients and their loved ones may face many difficult decisions. The palliative care team can help patients and their families sort through various treatment options that may include:


  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Surgery
  • Ventilator support
  • Feeding tubes
  • Place of treatment after discharge


Working to incorporate a patient’s values and hopes into a reasonable treatment plan, we will emphasize relief of distressing symptoms such as pain, nausea, anxiety and shortness of breath.

Who can benefit from palliative care?

Patients with the following conditions are frequently referred to palliative care:


  • Cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Severe peripheral vascular disease
  • Advanced COPD
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Severe trauma


How does Palliative Care work?

A palliative care consult is available to patients who are admitted to University Hospital. Anyone can suggest a palliative care consult, but your primary care physician must write an order for the service. The palliative care team works alongside the patient’s existing medical team to put the treatment plan into action.




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