Benjamin L. Pain management in sickle cell disease: palliative care begins at birth?. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2008;466-474. doi:10.1182/asheducation-2008.1.466
People with sickle cell disease (SCD) are living longer, but their lives are impacted even more by the unpredictable intermittent or constant pain that is often poorly managed over a lifetime. To address this problem, an interdisciplinary team approach is needed that brings the medical professionals together for optimal compassionate care that is coordinated from the beginning of life and throughout the patient’s lifespan.The hematologist, whenever possible, should take the lead. Effective models that have been developed to address SCD pain, such as the Day Hospital, The Recidivism Project and various Home Care models, need to be integrated into an overarching plan on a continuum with an underpinning philosophy that will sustain such a program. While the focus of palliative care has been end of life, its philosophies fit the chronic disease model and support an integrated team approach to the SCD pain management dilemma. The patient-focused and family-oriented interventions can be modeled to fit “any place, any time,” outpatient, inpatient or the home, with homecare and other support systems. Such are the needs in SCD: appropriate, timely and compassionate care to prevent or relieve suffering and to preserve dignity, meaning, value and quality of life with improvement that is translational from birth until the end of life.
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