Palliative Care

Palliative care focuses care on providing relief of a broad range of symptoms to anyone with a serious illness, whether he/she is expected to recover fully, to live with chronic illness, or to experience disease progression. The goal of palliative care is not cure, but to provide comfort, relieve suffering, and maintain the highest possible quality of life through symptom and pain management. Most important, it is about respecting and achieving goals set by the patient through advance care planning. Well-rounded palliative care programs also address mental health and spiritual needs. Palliative care may be delivered in hospice, home care settings, or hospitals. More information about accessing palliative care can be found on the  Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) website.

A palliative care consultation can assist nephrologists and dialysis providers in managing complex pain, symptoms, comorbidities, patient/family communication, and other issues. Read CAPC’s criteria for palliative care consultations.

A primary distinction between palliative care and hospice care is that the Medicare Part A hospice benefit covers patients with a life expectancy of six months or less (if the disease progresses along its normal course) and who no longer seek treatment for cure. Medicaid and most private insurers follow the same guideline. Palliative care has no time limit and is appropriate at any point in an illness. It can also be provided at the same time as curative treatment. Patients can obtain palliative care through a referral from their physician, and insurance coverage varies.

Note that hospice and palliative medicine is officially recognized as an ABMS subspecialty.  To find a board-certified specialist, go to