Palliative Care VS Hospice Care

What are the differences between each type of care?

The Focus:

Palliative: Palliative care is not hospice care: it does not replace the patient’s primary treatment; palliative care works together with the primary treatment being received. It focuses on the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness most often as an adjunct to curative care modalities. It is not time limited, allowing individuals who are ‘upstream’ of a 6-month or less terminal prognosis to receive services aligned with palliative care principles. Additionally, individuals who qualify for hospice service, and who are not emotionally ready to elect hospice care could benefit from palliative services.

Hospice: Hospice care focuses on the pain, symptoms, and stress of serious illness during the terminal phase. The terminal phase is defined by Medicare as an individual with a life expectancy of 6-months or less if the disease runs its natural course. This care is provided by an interdisciplinary team who provides care encompassing the individual patient and their family’s holistic needs.

Who Can Receive Each Type Of Care?

Palliative: Any individual with a serious illness, regardless of life expectancy or prognosis, can receive palliative care.

Hospice: Any individual with a serious illness measured in months not years can receive hospice care. Hospice enrollment requires the individual has a terminal prognosis.

Can The Patient Still Received Curative Treatments?

Palliative: Yes, individuals receiving palliative care are often still pursuing curative treatment modalities. Palliative care is not limited to the hospice benefit. However, there may be limitations based on their insurance provider.

Hospice: The goal of hospice is to provide comfort through pain and symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual support because curative treatment modalities are no longer beneficial. Hospice should be considered at the point when the burden of any given curative treatment modalities outweighs the benefit coupled with prognosis. Other factors to consider and discuss, based on individual patient situations, are treatment modalities that no longer provide benefit due to a loss of efficacy.

How Long Can An Individual Receive Services?

Palliative: Palliative care is not time-limited. How long an individual can receive care will depend upon their care needs, and the coverage they have through Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Most individuals receive palliative care on an intermittent basis that increased over time as their disease progresses.

Hospice: As long as the individual patient meets Medicare, Medicaid, or their private insurer’s criteria for hospice care. Again, this is measured in months, not years.

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