Referring patients to a palliative specialist is a critical step in patient-centered care. Palliative care specialists have the time to work with your patients to learn more about their goals of care, address psycho-social distress, and manage symptoms beyond the liver. Ultimately, a palliative specialist can help you provide efficient and effective care for your patients with liver disease.
What is supportive/palliative care?
Supportive care is a way of describing the specialty of palliative care. Palliative care is a holistic approach to care for patients with serious illness and their families and improve their quality of life.
Supportive or Palliative care is helpful for patients throughout the care continuum, as it focuses on physical and psychological symptom management, goals of care, psycho-social and spiritual distress.
Supportive care is not specific to liver disease. People with cancer, advanced lung or kidney disease, heart failure, dementia, and degenerative neurological diseases have benefited from this kind of care.
You can download this infographic with more information about Palliative Care to post in your practice or hand out to patients.
When should I refer my patient?
You can refer your patient at any point when you feel they would benefit from an additional level of support with symptom management or goals of care discussions. Or if the caregiver is struggling, it may be a good time to refer to palliative care.
My patient has heard of supportive/palliative care before but thinks it is hospice. How can I describe the difference between palliative care and hospice?
It is a common misconception that palliative care and hospice are the same. Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness, whether they are receiving treatment or not. Some people see a palliative care doctor or nurse for years. On the other hand, hospice is only for patients with a limited prognosis of 6 months or less and have decided that they do not want any further life-prolonging therapies.
This informative poster can help your patients understand the role of palliative care.
The societies and associations listed below provide additional information about palliative care and context to palliative care beyond liver disease:
Palliative Care for Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease: An Overview
Burden of Cirrhosis on Patients and Caregivers
Palliative care in liver disease: what does good look like?
Integration of Palliative Care in End-Stage Liver Disease and Liver Transplantation
Palliative care in end-stage liver disease: Time to do better?
Nonhospice Palliative Care Within the Treatment of End-Stage Liver Disease
Palliative care and end-stage liver disease: a critical review of current knowledge
Top Ten Tips Palliative Care Clinicians Should Know About End-Stage Liver Disease
Patient and Caregiver Perspectives on Palliative Care in End-Stage Liver Disease
Provider Stories: How Palliative Care Improves the Lives of Patients
Victor Navarro, MD
The Paul J. Johnson Chair, Department of Medicine
Einstein Healthcare Network, Jefferson Health System
Professor of Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
"Integrating a palliative care specialist into my patients' care team helps me provide liver care that aligns with the patient's goals and wishes as much as possible. Adding a palliative care specialist also ensures the caregiver is supported, as they play a critical role in the health and well-being of the patient."
Nicholas Hoppmann, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
"Integrating primary palliative care into my practice has facilitated more meaningful and impactful interactions with patients and family members. These conversations empower patients and their families to make decisions that align with what matters most to them."