“Palliative”: Why So Taboo?

2012 January 10
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The word “palliative” seems to be taboo all over the world! For a long time, no one knew what the word “palliative” meant. When finally people start hearing about it, yet it is so misunderstood.

Read the following by Dr Kohar Jones… The man was a fighter, but that does not mean that he needed to be persuaded to fight against a windmill! His doctor realises with some regret that he should have encouraged the patient to take on a worthwhile fight:

The positive effects of palliative care on quality of life

sign_ambulance“I’ve been a fighter all my life,” said my new patient, a middle aged man with thinning hair, a worried wife, and a dismal prognosis. He had worked all his life as a plumber with no health insurance. When he was healthy, it was okay. But now he was sick.

I was meeting him for the first time in the community health center where I work as a family physician, tending to all the health needs of a community, from birth to grave. One week earlier, he had gone to the local community hospital when he could no longer swallow. The emergency room doctors admitted him for a complete workup. Inside the hospital they found a tumor in his esophagus, and two in his lungs, one in each lobe of his liver, as well as in his adrenal glands.

Metastatic cancer, spread throughout his body.

The private oncologist who covered the for-profit community hospital where he had received his diagnosis would not see a man in his office who had no insurance. The oncologist directed the patient to me, expecting me to make urgent appointments with the oncologists at Cook County Hospital, Chicago’s county-financed public safety net system for the uninsured. They would provide top quality care, but it takes months for appointments to make it through the referral system, even when they are marked urgent.

“The oncologist told me you would help me,” he said.

 

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