ROME (CNS) — Intentionally causing a patient’s death is different from accepting that a patient is dying, then providing emotional and spiritual support and pain relief, said a doctor who practices and promotes palliative care.
Dr. Eduardo Bruera, medical director of the Department of Supportive Care Center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was one of the speakers at a Feb. 28-March 1 international congress on palliative care sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life.
“The reality is that, in medicine, we have focused much more on disease than on patients,” Bruera said. For example, he said, patients who report a “high-symptom burden” may be suffering from their cancer or from the toxicity of their treatment, but their situation also may be approaching the unbearable because they lost their job or are worrying about the impact of their illness on their families.
Palliative care, Bruera said, asks the medical team, the patient and the family to work together to alleviate suffering, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.