Joint Commission Issues First Palliative Care Certifications

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , February 28, 2012

The hospitals named as the first five are

  • Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN;
  • Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY;
  • Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY;
  • St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, Pontiac, MI;
  • The Connecticut Hospice Inc. in Branford, CT

Palliative care as a field of expertise is frequently misunderstood and misdefined by providers as well as patients. It is not only for the terminally ill, although many patients who receive palliative care may eventually go on to need hospice care services, Eickemeyer says.

Rather, palliative care brings in experts to coordinate care for patients with multiple diagnoses to relieve their pain, suffering, anxiety, nausea, depression or stress, help them navigate the complex healthcare system and coordinate their care teams, regardless of how much longer they have to live. 

Professionals help family members and patients to prioritize needs and to assure that patients get the right care at the right time. In many cases, such programs have allowed the patient to be discharged sooner than he or she otherwise would.

Only about 5% of hospitalized patients would qualify for palliative care services in most facilities. One study of patients with lung cancer found that palliative care programs actually helped them live longer.

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