Intended for healthcare professionals


UK: the best place in the world to die

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 15 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5440

Hospital vs Hospice

Traditional medicine distinguishes between sickness that is curable and sickness that is incurable. A curable sickness is treated in a hospital with curative care; while an incurable sickness is treated in a hospice with palliative care. For example, a curable sickness, such as pneumonia, is treated in a hospital with antibiotics, fluids, and bed rest; while an incurable sickness, such as metastatic cancer, is treated in a hospice with pain medicine and tranquilizers, but no anti-cancer drugs. Curative care is designed to fight sickness, while palliative care is designed to make patients more comfortable. This distinction between curative care and palliative care is somewhat misleading, because both rely on pharmaceuticals, and both ignore the relationship between diet and health. Regardless of whether a sickness is curable or incurable, physicians must promote health and not simply treat symptoms with pharmaceuticals.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 October 2015
Hugh Mann
New York