Dispelling the Myths About Palliative Care

Dispelling the Myths About Palliative Care

In a great post by Helen McNeal, Executive Director of the California State University Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM, she dispells 6 major myths about Palliative Care. In my experience, there continues to be significant confusion between hospice and palliative care and what is the relationship between them. I believe understanding the differences and reviewing the myths bout Palliative Care are instrumental to allow increased access to this very important care model. Please share this with as many of your contacts as possible whether you are a lay person or health care provider.

She begins the article by stating, “Almost everywhere you turn today in the media, there is some reference to palliative care.  Therefore, it is surprising how much confusion exists within health care in general but particularly amongst physicians about what it is, why it’s important, when to refer, etc.  And, generally, I see much more of an ostrich-like posture about the response to this confusion on the part of many health care providers than one would expect.  Given our aging population and data that demonstrates that palliative care increases longevity, reduces readmissions and improves outcomes, if this were a drug, everyone would be prescribing it.  Instead, for many patients and families, getting a referral seems like hand-to-hand combat.  For palliative care teams, education and building a referral base is a strategic, needlessly time-consuming one-on-one relationship building process.  Isn’t it time we all got on the same page?”

Helen McNeal goes on to discuss the following 6 myths:

  1. Palliative care equals hospice.
  2. Palliative care is only in hospitals and hospice is at home.
  3. A referral to palliative care means giving up active treatment
  4. Palliative care is only about pain and physical symptoms.
  5. Asking for a palliative care consult means giving up caring for the patient.
  6. Isn’t palliative care just good medical care?”

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