When a referring clinician wants to broach the subject of a palliative care specialty
consultation with a patient and family, which one is the best suggested phrases to use:
a) Palliative care clinicians have special expertise in managing dying patients.
b) Palliative care clinicians work together as an interdisciplinary team.
c) Palliative care clinicians can help you and your family deal with the changes
brought on by your illness.
d) Palliative care clinicians are most useful when there is nothing more that can be
Many clinicians struggle to find the right words to introduce the concept of
palliative care to their patients, fearful of provoking anxiety or anger. Option c) is a
neutral statement that can apply to any palliative care consultation, no matter what the
diagnosis or prognosis. In contrast, option a) is linked to the dying process, which does
not fit the broad role for palliative specialists. Option b) is correct, but is not specific to
palliative care, as other clinicians work in teams and option d) is a false statement, since
there is never a time when “nothing more can be done”.
See Fast Fact #42 Broaching the Topic of Palliative Care Consultation with Patients and