Palliative care is a specialized segment of health care which involves minimizing and preventing the patients’ pain and suffering. Patients suffering from chronic illness, end of life or curable illness may be placed in palliative care. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for the patient and family. The role of the BSN prepared nurse regarding palliative care is to be knowledgeable on palliative and gerontologic nursing practice.
The BSN prepared nurse is considered the expert in the area of pain and disease symptom management, communication, coping patterns and helping patients navigate the healthcare system. The role of the diploma prepared nurse regarding palliative care is to provide compassionate, timely nursing care in accordance with his/her scope of practice. The diploma and BSN prepared nurse possess the level of skill and competency to provide safe and effective nursing care to the palliative care patient.
The diploma prepared nurse collaborates with the interdisciplinary team to develop a holistic plan of care to meet the patient and families needs. BSN is a member of the interdisciplinary team and often leads the team in helping the patient and family with care decisions. The nurse has an ethical responsibility to respect the patients care choices related to palliative care in opposition to traditional treatment. Holistic and patient-centered care focuses on understanding and prioritizing the patient/family’s wishes and ensuring that they are making informed decisions regarding care decisions.
Often times, when the patient or the healthcare proxy has elected palliative care, other family members may disagree with this choice. The family may ask the nurse to help convince the patient/healthcare proxy that traditional treatment the most appropriate choice. The nurse would have an ethical dilemma and must be nonbiased and follow the patient’s decision, as long as the decision does not cause further harm or affects quality of life.