Department of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh

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Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics

The Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics was established to improve the quality of life of patients whose diseases are no longer responsive to curative treatments. The section provides comprehensive, coordinated services to terminally ill patients and their families, with emphasis on relief from pain and other disturbing symptoms; integration of physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of patient care; and development of a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death and to help family members cope during the loved one's illness and in bereavement.

The section is staffed by a nurse practitioner, physician, pharmacist, and psychologist, all of whom have expertise in palliative care and work closely with primary care providers, social workers, and case managers to coordinate care.

In addition to working with physicians to manage symptoms such as pain, delirium, fatigue, anorexia, depression, anxiety, and shortness of breath, the palliative care team provides emotional and psychological support for patients and their family members, helps discuss end-of-life issues, and develops appropriate treatment and discharge plans for seriously ill patients.