1. Castro, Maria RN

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Too often, palliative care isn't emphasized in the early management of terminal illnesses in direct detriment to the patient's quality of life ("Palliative Care Patients Fare Better with Earlier Referrals," In the News, November 2014). Curative measures are habitually given priority instead. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves why this happens.


Nurses are specially trained in the arts of patient comfort and complication prevention, but this concept of palliative care is viewed through a narrow lens at the time of advocating for a dying patient's rights. Is this lack of involvement and outspokenness in pushing for palliative care deeply rooted in our own fears of death and dying, or in our perceived sense of professional failure in "giving up" on a patient?


The American Hospice Foundation's Palliative Care Guidelines Group recommends introducing relevant aspects of palliative care in conjunction with other therapies that are meant to prolong life, like chemotherapy and radiation.1 So, advocating for palliative care shouldn't be looked upon as "giving up." Instead it should be seen as a step toward improving the patient's overall quality of life, comfort, and human dignity.


Maria Castro, RN


Mahwah, NJ




1. Emanuel L, et al. Integrating palliative care into disease management guidelines J Palliat Med. 2004;7(6):774-83 [Context Link]