Pain management is a prime aspect of care for the terminally ill and has, in recent years, become a medical specialty. In some cases the physician involved in a case may seem unable or unwilling to provide adequate control pain. This is when a pain management specialist may be called in.
Aggressive pain management can make the difference between a peaceful death and one in which suffering is so extreme and prolonged that assisted suicide becomes a consideration, although illegal (currently, except in Oregon). The right-to-die movement maintains that high quality pain management would lower the number of people who explore voluntarily ending their life before they would die.
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Palliative care or “comfort care” focuses on providing relief to a terminally ill person. “The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life for as long as life remains. Well-rounded palliative care programs also address mental health and spiritual needs. The focus is not on death, but on compassionate specialized care for the living.” It offers support for the whole person and those friends and family who are attending them and sharing their last days. Palliative care may occur in hospice or hospital facilities or in the home.