What is Specialized Palliative Care-and why are there new privileges to practice it?

While foundational palliative care is core to all medical disciplines, two credential streams now recognize practitioners that provide an expanded scope of palliative care services. In 2017, specialized palliative care became a subspecialty of the Royal College and a new domain for a Certificate of Added Competence from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Specialized palliative care includes, but is not limited to: the study, advancement, assessment and medical management of symptoms, suffering and quality of life throughout the continuum of life and death for patients with chronic or life-threatening illness.

These specialized services and the related credential programs are reflected in a new provincial privilege dictionary developed by a cross-specialty panel of palliative care practitioners.

The new dictionary is designed to supplement privileges in a physician’s core discipline; qualified physicians will request specialized palliative care privileges in addition to privileges for their core practice. Typically, specialized palliative care services are provided by physicians from general practice, internal medicine, anesthesiology, pediatrics or neurology, though they may be offered by a qualified physician from any discipline.

The new dictionary for specialized palliative care privileges is available online at bcmqi.ca. Final approvals of the dictionary are underway; qualified physicians will be able to apply for specialized palliative care privileges starting this fall.

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