Focus on the Whole Patient

Michael Burcham in Healthcare, Care Management, Patient Care

Sep 5, 2018  |  2 min read

Here are some highlights from a great article published out of Texas Medical Center. I've posted some of the highlights below as well as a link to the full article. Great work by Ed Burera at MD Anderson.


“In general, academic medicine has had great difficulty incorporating palliative care, supportive care and—in a sense—whole-patient care into disease management,” said Eduardo Bruera, M.D., medical director of the Supportive Care Center at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and chair of the department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine. “But things are changing, and they’re changing for the better.”

Bruera is a co-organizer of the Palliative Care and Spirituality for Life (PCSLife) conference, presented by Houston Methodist Research Institute and the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Academy for Life in Vatican City. PCSLife will be held Sept. 17 at Houston Methodist Research Institute.

Hosted in collaboration with MD Anderson’s Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine, PCSLife will feature palliative care and spiritual experts from Italy and across the United States. The conference will explore the importance of palliative care and spirituality in clinical practice, the benefits of palliative care to patients and health care systems, and best practices to help patients preserve dignity at the end of life.

“There is no moment of greater distress than the moment in which we are going to end our lives,” Bruera said. “It is never easy to be ill. It is always going to be difficult to die. We can never expect to turn the end of our lives into a pleasant experience, but there’s a lot of unnecessary … physical, emotional, spiritual and family suffering. That is what we are very good at alleviating.”

Palliative care, a relatively new subspecialty in medicine, focuses on improving the quality of life for patients and their families. Its ethos is based on the understanding that treating patients doesn’t mean just treating their disease; it means treating the patient as a whole and providing physical, psychosocial and spiritual support to alleviate pain and suffering.

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