Palliative care is an important part of the Australian health system. While nothing medically can be done to save their life, it is these services that improve a patient's quality of life and relieve them of unnecessary suffering.
Very few of us can truly understand what facing a life-threatening illness is like, but one thing is certain, these patients deserve respect and quality medical care in their final times with family.
The growth of palliative care-related hospitalisations
One of the implications of Australia's growing population is a rise in palliative care-related hospitalisations. According to a recently released report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the number of cases has increased 52 per cent since 2003-04.
In fact, close to 62,000 individual hospitalisations were recorded across the 2012-13 financial year.
AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck explained that age isn't the only factor impacting these figures.
"Contributing to this increase are the changing patterns of disease we see towards the end of people's lives – the increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses, which people are more likely to die from, is leading to greater use of palliative care services," he said.
Palliative care is all about comfort and easing the suffering on the patient. As such, prescription medication such as painkillers, laxatives, analgesics and anti-epileptics are commonly used throughout this sector.
The AIHW report close to 25,900 palliative care patients collected over 51,200 palliative care-related prescriptions in the 2013-14 financial year.
"At the core of palliative care is the aim to provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms, and medication can be central to this," Mr Neideck continued.
Is there a risk of medical neglect?
Unfortunately, medical negligence can occur in palliative care situations and this can impact the physical and mental health of the patient. This can cause further stress on the family as well.
According to Mistreatment.com, this negligence can occur in a number of ways. This can include delays in providing treatments such as pain relief, inaccurate treatment plans, failing to recognise the patient's holistic needs or incorrect treatments.
If you or your loved one feels that the palliative care is not up to standard and is causing more physical or mental harm, there could be a case for compensation.
Depending on the individual case, there is the possibility that this compensation can assist with medical bills or living arrangements.
For more information about medical negligence in the palliative care sector, contact an expert compensation lawyer today.