July 26, 2019 – Expanding Palliative Care


Anchor lead: More clinicians need to get involved with palliative care, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Palliative care aims to help people live the best they can with their health challenges, and now new guidelines aim to expand that perspective beyond cancer care. Tom Smith, director of palliative care at Johns Hopkins, says studies support this approach.

Smith: Not so much in refractory lung cancer, it didn’t make that much of a difference, but for people with COPD, pulmonary hypertension, diffuse interstitial fibrosis, there was a substantial improvement in survival, and that’s not cancer. The data are there. :16

Smith says all clinicians can develop a basic palliative care skillset.

Smith: This isn’t rocket science. It’s intervention science if you will, and applying time honored principles of nursing and medicine, asking people what you can help them with and then trying to fix it.  :11

Smith notes that specialists in palliative care are few and have challenges trying to meet the need, so expanding the practice to other clinicians may help. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.