Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice

Both, palliative care and hospice, sound same when it comes to the most important issue of caring chronically ill and dying people, but they do differ from the way it is being provided. Palliative care focuses on relieving from suffering and the patient may or may not be terminally ill, whereas hospice is the care given to terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. This article points out the differences between these two terms as they are of bit confusing since palliative care can be considered as a part of hospice.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care concerns on patient’s physical, mental, social and spiritual well being. It is appropriate for patients in all disease stages. It accompanies the patient throughout the journey from diagnosis to cure. It is appropriate for patients who are on treatment for a curable disease, living with a chronic disease such as progressive pulmonary disease, renal disease, chronic heart failure or progressive neurological abnormalities and for who are terminally ill.

Palliative care is usually offered in the place where the patient first received the treatment, and it is a multi disciplinary approach where the physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, and psychologists are all involved.

The medication provided mainly has a palliative effect with the hope of prolonging life and usually no curative effect on the underlying disease. The goal is to improve the quality of life, both in the patient and family, and can be provided along with the curative treatment or to alleviate the adverse effects of the curative therapy such as management of nausea associated with chemotherapy.

The main disadvantages are some of the adverse effects of the drugs, which are given to relieve pain, such as addiction in chronic narcotic use and cost the family has to bear.

What is Hospice?

As mentioned earlier, it is the care given to terminally ill patients. Actually speaking, it is a state where nothing more that medicine can do. So until death patient’s life must be made as comfortable as possible. Nowadays large numbers of hospice programs are available throughout the world to fulfill that goal.

The care is offered at a place where patient prefers, may be at home or somewhere else such as in a nursing home, or occasionally in a hospital. This relies upon a family caregiver as well as a visiting hospice nurse.

The medication provided mainly concentrate on the comfort. Patient can decide on which treatment to receive rather than suffering from the adverse effects of life prolonging drugs.


What is the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice?

• Palliative care is given at any stage of the disease, but hospice is given to terminally ill patients with life expectancy six months or less.

• Palliative care may be given while the patient is on curative treatment, but hospice is given when no more medicine can do.

• Palliative care is given usually at an institution such as in a hospital, but hospice is given where the patient prefers to stay, usually at home.

• Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach where several teams are involved, but hospice relies upon a family caregiver as well as on a visiting hospice nurse.

• Life prolonging medications are not used in hospice, but they are used in palliative care.