Saturday, April 13, 2024

Palliative care with Dr Rajam Iyer

On 10 Sep, 2022 Seniors Today hosted their Weekly Health Live webinar. This week we had with us Dr Rajam K Iyer, who spoke on palliative care and care of patients with chronic respiratory ailments. 


Dr Rajam K Iyer is a leading Chest Specialist and Palliative Care Physician. She is attached to the Bhatia and Hinduja Hospitals in Mumbai


Palliative care is a “need based medical service”, irrespective of the diagnosis and the prognosis of the illness. 


Historically, it was started for patients with advanced cancer, somehow, over the generations it has been misunderstood that palliative care is only for cancer patients and only for cancer patients towards end of life. 


Enough research has been suggested to see how integration of palliative care in any chronic illness and also during the covid pandemic has really improved not just the patient’s quality of life but over all the support that the caregivers give, the compliance of the patient, optimum utilisation of health resources is also seen; especially in a chronic, progressive, incurable illness. 


Palliative care involves a multidisciplinary team which not just has doctors, it also has nurses, physiotherapists, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and volunteers and social workers so that the patient feels supported in a holistic manner. 


If a doctor starts discussing palliative care early on in the trajectory of illness, the patients lose hope. Palliative care is a narrative medicine, it is like the way you communicate the difficult dialogues we have with the patients and the family. Palliative care does not talk about death, it talks about quality of life till death. 

Death is inevitable, but a bad death is avoidable. 


We need to make conversations around and about death and dying more comfortable.


Palliative care is need based. 


In India we have under 1000 palliative care specialist across the country. For a population of 1.2 billion, this is very very few doctors. 

In India, the most efficient and effective mode of advocacy for palliative care is doctors. 


A doctor who does not have the time to explain to you, your illness and inform you about your diagnosis; a doctor needs to give you enough correct information to you so that the patient and the family is satisfied and believe that they are in control of what they know about their illness. 


If you indulge in effective and timely communication, explain to the patient in a language that they would understand, the patient will be able to make better informed decisions. 


There is a website of India Association of Palliative Care. Depending on the area and the geography, there are palliative care centres across the country. 


The principles of looking after a cancer patient and a non cancer patient are the same. Because human beings and their needs are the same – comfort, dignity, respect and quality of life. 

Dr Noor Gill
Dr Noor Gill, MBBS, deciphers the space between heartbeats, figuratively and literally. Powered by frequent long naps and caffeine, she believes that “knowledge without giving back to society is meaningless” and works to make caring cool again.

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