Palliative care has been described by Cairns (1) as follows:
Palliative care is an area of health care that specifically addresses the needs of patients who have illnesses that are causing their health to deteriorate progressively, and often rapidly, towards death. The aim of palliative care is the relief of symptoms, the maintenance of the best possible quality of life for the patient within the limitations of their illness, and support for family before and after the death of the patient. Patients and their families are usually introduced to palliative care when it becomes apparent that attempts at cure are no longer possible or are inappropriate.
1. Cairns W. The problem of definitions. Prog Palliat Care 2001; 9: 187-189.