Palliative and Hospice Care
Throughout much of the world, palliative and hospice care are considered interchangeable terms, but the US does distinguish between them.
Palliative care. Focused on relieving patients of pain, symptoms, stress—palliative care deals with any suffering a patient is having with his or her illness. Palliative care, like hospice care, is not concerned with curing the patient, but with comforting them. Palliative care can be thought of as a broader, more encompassing term, and in the US, palliative services can be offered to any patient, regardless of their prognosis.
Hospice care. Deals specifically with patients who are being treated for an advanced illness with no hope of finding a cure. Under current Medicare policy, a patient’s hospice doctor and primary physician must diagnose the patient with 6 months or less left to live, in order to make him or her eligible for Medicare’s hospice and respite services. However, if the patient is still living after 6 months, this does not mean he or she will be taken off of the service.