What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on the patient’s prognosis. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.

The team provides expert treatment of physical symptoms including pain, nausea, or tiredness and also address emotional, social and spiritual impacts of serious illness on both patients and their loved ones. We often advocate to ensure that patients’ wishes are being heard, and that treatments are aligned with their goals and values.

Who could benefit from Palliative Medicine?

  • Patients with serious illnesses including cancer, heart failure, and certain lung diseases like COPD
  • Patients or families dealing with the stress of a serious illness
  • Patients dealing with pain or other symptoms related to a serious illness
  • Patients and families facing difficult decisions about their health

Who is on the team?

  • The patient and family
  • Specialist physicians that treat the underlying illness (oncologists, cardiologists, etc.)
  • Palliative Medicine physicians
  • Physician assistants and nurse practitioners
  • Social workers
  • Registered nurses

The Palliative Care team collaborates with your other healthcare providers, including your primary care physician or specialists (oncologists, cardiologists, etc.)

The Palliative Care team can also facilitate referrals with other supportive services like nutritionists, chaplains, and art or music therapists.

Where is care provided?

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Nursing facilities
  • Homes

What is the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice?

Palliative Care and Hospice are different areas of medicine and serve different types of patients. While both Palliative Care and Hospice aim to improve quality of life for patients with serious illnesses, Palliative Care treats patients at any stage of illness, alongside other disease therapy. Hospice, on the other hand, focuses on patients no longer receiving life-prolonging treatments, including patients at the end of life.

To learn more about available hospice options, please visit Cleveland Clinic Hospice.

Patient Story

Learn more about Albert Nash's battle with pancreatic cancer and how Cleveland Clinic's Palliative Care Program helped him find relief during the final stages of his treatment.

Read Albert's Story
Patient Resources

Patient Resources

Palliative care will affect most people at some stage whether as a patient, carer, family member, neighbor or friend. Read through our hospice and palliative care resources, tips and support for caregivers, family and loved ones.

Advance Directives

Learn about and download Advance Directive documentation (Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will) to ensure your healthcare wishes are fulfilled by your medical team.

Pediatric Palliative Care and Medicine

Meet our Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatric Palliative Care team and schedule an appointment.

Palliative and Hospice Care for Heart Failure

Watch a video on palliative care and view resources from The Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.


Review the programs and services offered by Ohio’s best Geriatric Medicine program.

Patient Support Programs

View a comprehensive library of helpful programs for patients and their families who are facing the difficulties of a cancer diagnosis.

Cleveland Clinic Hospice

Receive an overview of our hospice program and learn more about the services offered and how to request for a loved one.

The Conversation Project

Discover a public engagement initiative dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.

Get Palliative Care

A website providing clear, comprehensive palliative care information for people living with a serious illness.



The Palliative Medicine program at Cleveland Clinic provides educational offerings for a diverse array of healthcare providers. Examples include:

For more information, please contact:

Lynn Mulgrew
Education Program Manager
Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland Clinic
10201 Carnegie Avenue, CA6
Cleveland, OH 44195
Phone: 216.445.0624
Fax: 216.444.9464
Email: mulgrel@ccf.org

For Medical Professionals

For Medical Professionals

Palliative Medicine, first established at Cleveland Clinic by Lois Horvitz, in honor of her late husband Harry, provides specialized medical care for patients living with serious illness.

The Harry R. and Lois U. Horvitz Grand Rounds in Palliative Medicine provides our physicians, residents, and medical students the opportunity to learn from the most significant palliative care professionals and experiences around the world sharing expert insight, best practices, and methodology that integrates palliative medicine as a standard of care that ensures the best quality of life for patients and their families.

Please visit our Hospice and Palliative Medicine physician fellowship program website for more details.

Make An Online Referral

To make a direct online referral to our Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, complete our Online Cancer Patient Referral Form or visit clevelandclinic.org/cancerpatientreferrals.

You will receive confirmation once the appointment is scheduled.



If you are interested in participating in or learning more about our Palliative Medicine program, please contact our Cancer Answer Line at 866.223.8100 (toll-free).