Doctor’s Diary July 20, 2017: Comfort Care – Know the Difference

(Snippets from the frontline)

Comfort Care – Know the difference

Your loved one is seizing and brought to the Emergency Room.  The staff offers “comfort care” and of course who wouldn’t want their loved one to be comfortable.  But in a hospital setting, “comfort care” has a different meaning than the intuitive thought of pure comfort.  It is end-of-life care.

Healthcare jargon can easily be misinterpreted, hence patients and families must be acutely aware and understand this distinction.  Comfort care in a hospital means a patient will be placed on hospice, no further medical care will be rendered, and medication (like a morphine drip) will be started for “comfort.”

In an emergency room where a person’s life hinges on immediate decision-making and emotions are high, awareness of this difference in meaning and definition must be acknowledged by all sides.

It is critically important patients and families know this distinction.

(By-the-way, a decision to place a patient on hospital comfort care should rarely be made in an ER setting.)

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.


  • Gregory Jenkins, M.D. says:

    Yes often times for a an elderly patient there may be pressure from the hospital to start “comfort” care before the full evaluation of the the patients medical condition is completed.

  • Anonymous says:

    Most doctors I know now are either receiving salary or sold their business and experiencing hardships. Medicare either don’t pay on time or not pay at
    all. Most patients are dependent on welfare or government handouts.
    With so much to spend for medical career, no one among the graduates ever want to go into the medical career anymore.
    Doctors who are just devoted to their professions and duty bound to their oath, remain vigilant and still see their patients even without remuneration.
    Hospital care? Emergency care? Just waiting for the last breath.

  • Gene says:

    Hi Steve

    Hospice care is not meant to be “long-term.” It is stipulated to be less than 6 months, but that is where the “shady” part of this care has been taken over by greed and self-serving agencies. Another future topic on Doctor’s Diary will discuss this issue, but you’re right, there is confusion between “Comfort Care” and “Hospice Care” which I will work on clarifying…also in a future snippet.


  • Steve Lunetta says:

    Comfort care = hospice (but hospice is long-term end of life care, correct)

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