by Michael Fratkin at October 18, 2016

“The practice of medicine is a dance that occurs in the gap between what we know and what we don’t know. The practice of palliative care, my specialty, is uniquely positioned to serve people of all backgrounds and circumstances as they navigate their paths in the face of serious and progressive illnesses of all sorts. The consensus definition is straightforward:

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

My own operational definition emphasizes the practical. I tell folks and their families that we are helpful in navigating the frequently complex, and always difficult, circumstances. We target our assistance to help provide value, while avoiding harm, within our crazy and broken healthcare system. It turns out that the relief of symptoms is often the least challenging element. What’s often missing for patients is wise guidance, clear information, and clarity around their prognosis and their in the face of life completion.”

Read the rest of Michael’s commentary at