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.