Comfort Care – Know the difference

Your loved one is seizing and brought to the Emergency Room.  The staff offers “comfort care” and of course who wouldn’t want their loved one to be comfortable.  But in a hospital setting, “comfort care” has a different meaning than the intuitive thought of pure comfort.  It is end-of-life care.
Healthcare jargon can easily be misinterpreted, hence patients and families must be acutely aware and understand this distinction.  Comfort care in a hospital means a patient will be placed on hospice, no further medical care will be rendered, and medication (like a morphine drip) will be started for “comfort.”
In an emergency room where a person’s life hinges on immediate decision-making and emotions are high, awareness of this difference in meaning and definition must be acknowledged by all sides. 
It is critically important patients and families know this distinction.
(By-the-way, a decision to place a patient on hospital comfort care should rarely be made in an ER setting.)
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

Leave a Comment