Intermountain Medical Center

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Doctor talks to patient and husband

A palliative care consult is requested during a hospital stay to assist you and your loved ones during a serious, advanced illness or an injury. The consult can take many forms, but in general, you can expect the palliative care team to partner with your doctors and nurses to provide the following:

  • Additional support to treat complex symptoms
  • Medication to ease your physical pain
  • Help for you and your family to manage the stress of hospitalization and illness
  • Help setting goals of care

Palliative care can be used alone or combined with treatments designed to cure or prolong life, such as antibiotics, surgery, or radiation treatments. During all stages, palliative care is about improving the quality of a person’s life and supporting the decisions made about the chosen plan of care.

Is palliative care the same as hospice?

No, the two are not the same. Hospice and palliative care both focus on quality of life, and a person receiving hospice services will receive palliative care (pain management, emotional support, and so on). However, the use and scope of hospice is limited to the end of life. Here are some points illustrating the difference between palliative care and hospice:

  • You can receive palliative care at any stage of life, and even for many years at a stretch. Hospice care is reserved for people who are not expected to live longer than 6 months.
  • Palliative care can be given temporarily, to people who will go on to recover. Hospice is specifically focused on comfort at the end of life.
  • Palliative care may be combined with treatment designed to cure illness or prolong life. A person receiving hospice services does not receive this type of medical treatment.
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