PALLIATIVE CARE: Reflections
I just completed my two-week elective on the Palliative Care Team and I wanted to share some of my reactions to my initial post.
1. I am still not comfortable managing these types of patients. I have a lot of questions about what I “should” or “could” do and I am so thankful for our hospital’s team of experts in this field.
2. Most people, including myself, would like some guidelines on this subject. Because of this, my attending and I wrote up a hospital policy about what the Palliative Care Team does and what is allowed/recommended for a palliative care patient. We also are working on an order set that includes some common nursing, medical, and psychosocial orders that will hopefully help guide the team in their management. This includes things like pain regiments, notifying the chaplain, turning off monitors, etc.
3. You are never alone. It’s a medical team for a reason and if you ever feel uncomfortable managing any aspect of a palliative care patient, you should seek assistance. Every patient is different, and the Palliative Care Team exists for a reason.
4. Most hospitals do not have a palliative care team! If this happens to be the case for your hospital, there are a lot of great resources online.
5. Palliative Care doesn't have to be sad! We had some very happy conversations with families, many of whom felt relief that someone was there to guide them. I encourage all residents and healthcare workers to ask about palliative care at your job and see what options are available!