Palliative Care: The Medical and Economical Significance

“Palliative care is a paradigm from diagnosis through the end of life…This is not about the end of life, it is about life. It is not about the elderly, it is about people.”

Palliative care is something that is commonly associated with either the elderly, or those suffering from severe diseases along the lines of cancer and neurological conditions. In this honest talk about palliative medicine, Dr. Timothy Ihrig examines the importance of palliative care not just medically, but also economically.

Ihrig, a physician himself, talks about how medical professionals focus so much on diseases, pathology, surgery and pharmacology but miss the idea of the human being––this is the idea that palliative care focuses on.

With the biggest threat to life being healthcare expenditure, palliative care is not only useful in helping patients retain dignity, control, and choice, but also in significantly reducing their expenditure on end-of-life care––by almost two-thirds. He claims that doctors tend to focus on the treatment of the body, rather than taking care of the mind; this is particularly because physicians are paid on the basis of what they do to their patients.

“The more we do to someone, the more we decrease the quality of their lives…We can do anything to you, but should we?”

Using testimonies of his own patients across the spectrum, he delves into the idea that palliative care is not just for the elderly or for the terminally ill. Palliative care aims to improve population health, help patients, and decrease per-capita expenditure on healthcare. Palliative care focuses on hearing, not just listening, and adapting treatment and care on a person-to-person basis, focusing on the needs, wants, and beliefs of the patient.

“Palliative medicine is the answer to engage with human beings, to change the journey that we will all face and change it for the better.” 

He also emphasizes that palliative care is not just about end-of-life, it is about life itself––particularly, quality of life. Harvard studies show that end-stage-lung-disease patients with palliative care reported less pain, less depression, fewer hospitalizations than those without. Additionally, those with palliative care lived an average of 3-6 months longer than those without it.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.  

As a healthcare professional, sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system at large. You can help bring back care into healthcare for the patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team.

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Source: TEDx Talks

This You Tube video has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators

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