What is a palliative care physician?

A palliative care physician is a doctor who specialises in the care of dying patients.

They often coordinate a multidisciplinary team that ensures optimisation of care around the time of death.

Their role includes supporting the emotional as well as medical and physical wellbeing through the dying process.

Medical conditions treated by a palliative care physician

A palliative care physician treats any condition where death is the expected eventual outcome, including:

  • Cancer
  • Degenerative neurological diseases
  • Severe heart and lung disease
  • Liver disease

What to expect at your first appointment


Your palliative care physician needs to know about your condition but also about you and your family’s expectations, hopes and understanding.

History taking will focus initially on your condition and your current symptoms. They will also ask about past medical history, medications, allergies, social and family history.

Establishing a care plan

Next it is important for your palliative care physician to establish what are your main concerns so these can be addressed individually and completely.

Palliative care physicians are specially trianed to communicate, explain and guide patients and families through what is a very difficult time.

The approach is very multidisciplinary with nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and doctors all being invovled.

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Specialty areas of interest

  • Pain management
  • Psychological management of dying and bereavement
  • Aged care
  • Paediatric palliative care
  • Cancer

Training and qualifications




This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.