Monday, July 2, 2007

De-medicalizing palliative medicine

This is perhaps my shortest post in 2 years - I'm on vacation until next week & my plans include idleness and frivolity so I won't be blogging.

Medinnovation blog mentions palliative care as an emerging field in the context of primary care docs searching for better pay and more job satisfaction. Fair enough, but in the process what palliative docs do is described in a totally de-medicalized way and sounds a lot like, frankly, social work (nothing against social work! - see below).

"These physicians coordinate care for patients with terminal illnesses, comfort the dying, commiserate with spouses and relatives, arrange for care in homes and tend to patients spiritual needs."

To me it really hit home just how little people, even other docs, understand what it is we do and the image of us sitting at the bedside, holding hands, and dropping Roxanol under the tongue persists. I strongly feel that we (and here I mean palliative docs) should deliberately and firmly present ourselves to our colleagues as docs doing nothing more than providing good medical care for the severely & chronically ill and dying. Terminal extubations? Good medical care. Foregrounding patient emotional and spiritual needs? Good medical care. Etc. (Via Kevin MD.)

Happy July 4th to our American readers (image from the NY Times; need Times Select to watch video).

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