Palliative Care Department
Until recent years, modern medicine focused its efforts against cancer on the disease itself, and has, in fact, made significant progress in its treatment. However, it’s also hard to deny that it paid little attention to the pain and suffering, both physical and psychological, of the patient battling the disease. Learning from this, the WHO proposed a new philosophy of care for patients facing life-shortening illness – palliative care – and the Japanese government has also passed cancer care legislation that puts the expansion of palliative care services as one of its top goals. Our Palliative Care Department’s mission is to achieve those goals by working to improve the quality of life (QOL) of patients and their families as much as possible.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care aims to relieve the pain and total suffering of patients facing conditions that threaten their lives by providing not only physical treatments and medication to lower physical discomfort as much as possible, but spiritual and psychological support as well for the concerns they and their families face in end-of-life situations. The number one goal of this care is improving the patient’s QOL. For that reason, our treatment is not of an organ or a disease, per se, but of a person.
How we approach Palliative Care
Based on many of the same principles as the hospice movement, the single-most important thing is considering the desires of the patient. For that reason, we pay special attention to the psychological condition of the patient and their family, in particular, their understanding of the patient’s physical situation. We focus on communication with the patient and their family, and use that as the basis to create a program of care tailored to their desires.
Our hospital is a member of Hospice Palliative Care Japan as well as the Japanese Society for Palliative Medicine and not only studies their extensive research in this field, but shares and publishes our own data and research in the field.
The Palliative Care Team
Our Palliative care team is a true interdisciplinary effort that includes physicians from several departments (palliative care, general surgery, urology, anesthesiology, psychology), nurses, pharmacists, rehabilitation therapists, nutritionists, social workers and other specialists to provide high-level consulting. We carry out weekly interdisciplinary team meetings, and spot conferences if the situation calls for it, in order to improve the quality of care as much as possible.