Palliative Care, Hospice Care and Pain Management

Doctor holding a patient's hand

On this page: Palliative Care | Hospice Care | Pain Management

Palliative Care

Palliative care is supportive care for patients with a serious illness. The goal is to relieve pain, symptoms and stress from chronic diseases and to provide the best quality of life for patients and their families. 

While often confused with hospice care (which is meant for patients at the end stages of disease), palliative care helps at any age with any serious illness. Palliative care specifically helps with the symptoms of your condition, and it can be given at the same time you're getting care for your primary condition.

At Suburban Hospital, palliative care is provided only for patients while they're in the hospital. It is provided by a multidisciplinary team that works closely with you, your family, and your medical team to address your concerns. The service is led by a board-certified palliative care physician and includes a massage therapist, the hospital’s chaplain, social work support, and on occasion a rotating physician training in palliative medicine. The team works closely, when needed, with a dietician and other support services. To learn more, talk to your physician or nurse or contact the palliative care team at 301-896-3139.

Benefits of Palliative Care

  • Relief from distressing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping
  • Improved ability to carry on with your daily life
  • Improved ability to tolerate medical treatments
  • Complementary and alternative treatment options including massage, music, and aromatherapy
  • Better understanding of your condition and your choices for medical care
  • Emotional and spiritual support for both patient and family members
  • Help navigating the health care system and arranging support after discharge

Palliative Care Resources

Hospice Care

Hospice care is the type of care provided to support a terminally ill patient (life expectancy less than 6 months) and their family. It is almost always provided at home or wherever he or she lives. Care usually involves relieving troublesome symptoms and providing psychological, social and spiritual support for the patient and family. Many life supporting treatments, like most medications are usually continued. 

Unlike palliative care, hospice is not a service provided during a Suburban Hospital stay. For patients interested in receiving hospice care after leaving Suburban, a social worker will have a hospice worker meet you during your hospital stay to make arrangements. Once hospice is set up, the hospice will meet you at your place of residence. If needed, the hospice will deliver oxygen or other necessary equipment to your home beforehand. This helps ensure that the transition from Suburban with hospice support is a smooth one.

Hospice Resources:

Pain Management

At Suburban Hospital, relieving pain from surgery, trauma or acute illness is a focus of our Pain Management Service. Providing up-to-date pain management techniques, such as patient controlled analgesia (PCA) or epidural analgesia, helps patients to recover sooner and return home with less pain.

Using a collaborative, patient-centered approach to pain management helps ensure that pain relief is assessed regularly. Using both traditional pain management techniques and newer interventional techniques, such as continuous peripheral local anesthetic catheters, can help to maximize pain control for patients.

Together, the Pain Management Team provides services for patients with complex pain management needs and oversees acute pain management modalities such as PCAs, epidural catheters and peripheral local anesthetic catheters.

Any inpatient who is having difficulty with pain management can be seen by a pain management specialist. Physicians can request a consult from the Pain Management Service at any time, and nurses and patients can request to see the pain management nurse practitioner when pain is problematic.  

For outpatient services, please contact:

Johns Hopkins Health Care & Surgery Center
6420 Rockledge Drive, Suite 4920
Bethesda, MD 20817
For appointments call: 202-660-5191