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The North Carolina Medical Society supports the provision of palliative care for individuals regardless of age who have a serious illness and seek support and relief from suffering, whether or not those individuals continue to receive curative treatment.  Palliative care, also known as supportive care, is a patient-centered, whole-person approach that helps improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from serious illness; it also provides needed support to personal caregivers and loved ones. The level of palliative care needed may fluctuate over the course of an illness based on a patient’s symptoms or other needs. The NCMS endorses the National Consensus Project’s definition of palliative care and supports the application of national standards to define high-quality palliative care (1).

The NCMS supports interprofessional collaboration for optimal delivery of palliative care and the provision of hospital-based, outpatient, and home-based palliative care where appropriate.

The NCMS supports efforts to raise awareness among physicians, physician assistants, care teams, and the general population of the significant need for effective relief of the physical, psychological, and spiritual distress that frequently accompanies serious illness.

The NCMS supports programming in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education to promote knowledge of palliative care and the integration of palliative care into clinical practice.

The NCMS supports the adoption and expansion of primary palliative care, that is, palliative care provided by clinicians who are not palliative care specialists. Primary palliative care includes basic symptom management and discussions about goals of care, treatment decisions, preferences for resuscitation, and transition to hospice care. Other aspects of palliative care, however, such as complex symptom management and difficult decisions about treatment, goals of care, or transitions to hospice, may require the involvement of a palliative care specialist.


National Consensus Project’s Definition of Palliative Care:

“Beneficial at any stage of a serious illness, palliative care is an interdisciplinary care delivery system designed to anticipate, prevent, and manage physical, psychological, social, and spiritual suffering to optimize quality of life for patients, their families and caregivers. Palliative care can be delivered in any care setting through the collaboration of many types of care providers. Through early integration into the care plan of seriously ill people, palliative care improves quality of life for both the patient and the family.”

National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition. Richmond, VA: National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care; 2018. https://www.nationalcoalitionhpc.org/ncp.

(Adopted, NCMS BOD Report 5/2022)