Monday, November 6, 2006

Palliative Care and Media Attention

A couple of things have crossed my path recently and each item is tied to the media exposure of hospice and palliative care. A colleague recently came up to me while I was attending our palliative medicine consult service and wanted to know why we were still calling ourselves 'palliative care.' Here is a little reenactment (you must provide your own voices):

Colleague: "You guys should really think about changing your name."
"You mean 'Palliative Care Team'? Why's that?"
Colleague: "Well, no one really knows what it means. Why don't you call it something that people already know the name of, like what's that the oncologists call their thing?"
Me: "Supportive Care?"
Colleague: "Yeah."
Me: "Well our team has been the palliative care team for seven years so we have a lot of time invested in that name and our number of consults have gone up quite a bit over that time. And palliative medicine was just approved as a medical specialty so there should be a lot more support for that name. Also I get a chance to define palliative care to others when they ask 'What is palliative care?' as more than just end of life care or help with cancer care."
Colleague: "Oh that's good news about the approval of the specialty. Just think about that name change thing. It might help you."

So what can we do as palliative care specialists, palliatist, palliativists, or whatever you want to call our field? Well James Hallenbeck, MD has a good recent post over at Growthhouse entitled "Got Palliative Care?" In it he summarizes how our field can take some points from advertising (the Got Milk? campaign) and applying it to demonstrate our principles. Now I don't know what kind of copyrights exist for this sort of thing, but I really like the ideas he presented in his blog. I would do a disservice by summarizing his blog. You should take the time to read it yourself. Besides he writes much better than I do!

Also my Uncle recently sent me a magazine for the Denver Metro area called 5280 (mile high connection, I guess.) He sent it because it featured the top Denver doctors. Well I quickly thumbed through it and found no listing for Hospice or Palliative Medicine physicians. I also found a San Diego Magazine listing their top doctors. Again Hospice or Palliative Medicine doctors listed. Same with Ingram's top doctor's for Kansas City, although their list was much more exclusive. So I challenge all Pallimed readers to contact your city's newspaper or high-society magazine and ask them to include hospice and palliative medicine as a specialty to select physicians. Not that this particular recognition of an individual doctor means anything but if it gets the word out that palliative medicine is a recognized specialty we will start to see that it belongs as a standard part of medical care of the ill as Drew has mentioned in these posts many times before.

And for fun we have a word puzzle, since it is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month (President Bush did sign a proclamation by the way.)

How many words can you make from this word:


The answers will be provided in one week, so go ahead and try at home.

(I found this puzzle in the newspaper last week. At least the puzzlers are spreading the word.)

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