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Over the last decade a new specialty of medicine, known as Palliative Care Medicine, has grown from a small set of practitioners sprinkled throughout America to a nationwide practice. The field is now recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Palliative Care is the field of medicine that deals with chronic and intractable pain that accompany many forms of serious disease, injury or disabilty. It is often administered when the source of the intractable pain, such as with cancer, cannot be cured or remediated. Palliative medicine is focused on reducing the pain or other symptoms of the disease or disorder to allow the patient to have an improved quality of life.

Today, palliative care is available in hospitals and hospice care where the chronically ill or injured are most often treated. Private practitioners and clinics have also sprung up.

The Washington Post recently reported that the nonprofit National Palliative Care Research Center conducted the first nationwide review of palliative care and issued a state by state ranking. The rankings were based upon the number of hospitals or other facilities that had palliative care available for the seriously ill. California was given a "C" grade. You can see your state’s rankings at the website for the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC).

It is the opinion of this author that the advancement of palliative care in the field of medicine is one of the most important developments in medicine in many years. The field has not only assisted patients with intractable pain to obtain a greater quality of life, it has also improved our understanding of how to administer pain medications and other therapeutic procedures to target the specific source of the pain. Oftentimes, this allows the patient to secure the needed relief without sacrificing physical capabilities or cognitive functioning. We applaud the efforts of the CAPC in promoting the availability of this care to all that need it.

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