What is Palliative Care?

Dr. Lynn Osterlund talks about what palliative care is, how it can benefit you or a loved one, as well as how to request palliative care services.

Palliative Care 

Palliative care is a medical specialty that supports patients, families, and physicians in the care of those with serious and potentially life-threatening illness.  The University of Tennessee Medical Center proudly offers a physician referral-based service, University Palliative Care (UPC).  The goal of UPC is to improve patient’s quality of life by providing comfort and support to patients and their family. 

How Can University Palliative Care Help?

UPC provides consultative expertise in palliative care for University of Tennessee Medical Center hospitalized patients and families, as well as cancer patients in the outpatient clinic.  

UPC staff work to improve the quality of life of patients and families living with potentially life-limiting or serious illness by providing care focused on relief of physical, spiritual and psychosocial suffering.  Consultation is available for patients in various stages of illness whether the care focus is on recovery or comfort. 

In consultation with your physician, UPC team members will help you and your family better understand your medical options and the possible outcomes. Palliative care encourages you to provide greater input into your treatment decisions and our team will guide you through difficult and complex choices. As a collaborative program, palliative care also addresses your psychological and social concerns to provide additional support for you and your family. As part of your care team, UPC will work with you to identify your goals and develop an individualized plan that respects your values, wishes and lifestyle. 

Services Provided

  • Symptom management
  • Emotional and spiritual support
  • Clarification of goals for treatment
  • Communication between patients, families, and providers

Symptoms Treated

  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression

Symptoms Treated

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Swallowing difficulties


Who Can Benefit from Palliative Care?

Palliative care makes effective and efficient use of all available resources to provide high quality, well-planned treatment focused on your quality of life. It starts by helping you manage the symptoms to help you avoid or reduce hospital stays or emergency room visits. Palliative care will also help improve your ability to tolerate medical treatments, so you are better able to manage and cope with expected side effects. Based on what matters most to you, palliative care will help you carry on your daily life in accordance with your goals and priorities. Palliative care does not replace or duplicate your primary treatment. Instead, it works with and supplements your ongoing care at every stage of your illness. 

For more information about UPC inpatient consultative services, please call 865.305.7255. For more information about the UPC outpatient clinic for cancer patients, call 865-305-7169, or talk to your doctor about Palliative Care options.