In hospice settings, nurses wet the mouths of patients as they take their last breaths. Sometimes, they simply sit with them so that no one dies alone. As a physician, I could not do my job without them.
By using tools that identify which patients have an elevated risk of mortality in the coming year, we can catch patients who would benefit from palliative care planning before they fall through the cracks.
Changing the name of palliative care to "supportive care" would be a lazy substitute for the important work of educating patients, families, caregivers and clinicians alike on what palliative care actually is.
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