term "comfort care" is often used synonymously with the term "palliative
palliative care, which includes pain and symptom management, support for
patient and family, and the opportunity to achieve meaningful closure to
life, is the standard of care for the dying, especially by many hospice
When comfort care is provided properly, it can ensure a dignified death
for most incurably ill patients. Nevertheless, there are some instances
when severe intolerable end-of-life suffering cannot be adequately treated
without complete sedation. Most terminal suffering, even in the case of
many cancer patients, can be reversed through more aggressive efforts at
comfort care or by making comprehensive medical care more available. It
may mean a change in priorities and difficult decisions based on information
about the burdens of treatment and the patient's prognosis. Importantly,
it also means exploring what gives meaning to a patient at the end of life.
are some limitations of comfort care, such as when a patient does not wish
to be heavily sedated, comatose, or in a state of "twilight" sleep,
or does not want to be completely dependent upon others for care. Some patients
fear being out of control or mentally confused while waiting for death.
Others with incurable respiratory problems may fear -- or experience --
a suffocating struggle just prior to death, which they do not wish to endure.
care refers to treatment given to patients who are incurably ill, with the
aim of relieving their suffering and controlling their symptoms in the most
effective way. The World Health Organization defines palliative care as:
active, total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative
treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social
and spiritual problems, is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement
of the best quality of life for patients and their families." (WHO, 1990).
from: South Australian
Voluntary Euthanasia Society (SAVES)