A condition that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient within a relatively short period of time, whether medical treatment is received or not. Often an arbitrary six-month period is used by third-party payers and care providers in order to ration
or appropriately utilize scarce resources. In the presence of terminal illness, palliative care
may include the treatment of physical changes secondary to the declining medical condition, at times employing the same therapies that in other instances are used for curative purposes (for example, shrinking a tumor with radiation in order to slow its growth, where the radiation will not cure the patient). Some studies show that individuals with a terminal illness prefer their doctors and other care providers to think of them first and foremost as persons who are living
with a life threatening condition, rather than as dying patients (See: Supportive Care of the Dying, Living and Healing During Life-Threatening Illness
). This perspective emphasizes the centrality of the person rather than the disease.