Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thoughts - Medisave for Palliative Care

There has been a lot of interest on this topic with many patients asking if this programme has started. The government has taken a step of reviewing the possibility of using Medisave in home palliative care. This is important as these patients want to be home and yet receive medical treatment as well. The use of Medisave in this scenario is also considered finite. The big question is – when does palliative care start? Many palliative care practitioners would probably feel that palliative care should start once a disease with significant impact of life has been diagnosed.

Palliative care originated from Latin palliare, which means to cloak. The aim is to reduce the severity of disease symptoms. The essence of palliative care treatment is to prevent and relieve suffering and to improve quality of life. Some palliative care is not dependent on prognosis while other forms of palliative care look at end of life issues.

It is precisely the difficulty in defining palliative care that we need to look carefully at how we can use Medisave in providing care at home.

We need to consider the time frame, the need of interventive procedures, the need of paramedical services like physiotherapy, speech therapy.

Finally, there is the right of every patient to choose the form of treatment and where the treatment can be done.

We will need time to review this topic carefully and develop systems to ensure that patients receive home hospital care if they so decide.

Dr Madeleine Chew Him Lim
MBBS (Singapore)
Senior Physician
MW Medical (Singapore)