When is it time to choose palliative care?

When is it time to choose palliative care?
1 Response
  • Dr. Ira Byock
    Dr. Ira Byock
    April 20th, 2021

    When somebody has a serious illness, a potentially life-limiting condition, it's almost never too soon to consult with a palliative care clinician or team because palliative care encompasses a set of services, clinician and team skill sets that may be valuable even very early in the course of a serious life-limiting illness. Let's say cancer or heart failure or ALS or serious liver disease. It's helpful to make choices. It's helpful for planning. It's helpful to get families the education and support they need to be good supports and caregivers. One may not then need palliative care in an ongoing way for some months, or to check in occasionally for the management of symptomatic medications and the like. Toward the latter stages of an illness as complications evolve, it may again be time to engage palliative care for more direct clinical services, family support, transitions of care from home to hospital and back again. Those sorts of things, and for caring well as palliative care transitions to hospice care for the dying experience.