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Speaker Spotlight: Dr Suresh Reddy
13 March 2013

Dr Suresh Reddy, Professor and Section Chief at the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, will be speaking at public symposium, Living Well, Leaving Well, held in partnership by HCA Hospice Care and Tan Tock Seng Hospital on 22nd Mar 2014. (Sign up to attend the symposium here!)

Dr Reddy holds a wealth of international training experience as lecturer, speaker, and observer across North America, Asia, Middle-East and Europe.

Q: We noticed you started work in medicine in Anesthesiology. Why did you choose to make this move into palliative care?

After I completed my Anesthesia training both in England and US, I wanted to pursue further sub-specialty training in pain management offered to Anesthesiologists. I was trained in all kinds of pain, but cancer pain really motivated me due to outcomes and challenges. Palliative care was a natural transition for me after I met my mentor, Dr Eduardo Bruera, who is the pioneer in palliative care.

Q: What are some of the misconceptions about palliative care you have encountered?

  • Palliative care is a death service
  • It promotes depression and anxiety
  • It is a TLC (Tender Love and CARE) service
  • One does not need a specialist training to do it
  • It can be done by any health care provider
  • It should be reserved to the time of death

Q: You've done some extensive speaking and teaching around the world. Have there been any cultural differences in the way people approach palliative care?

Absolutely. Most cultures do not want disclosure of cancer diagnosis to patient, while many cultures associate palliative care to end of life care. Decision making is also unique to different cultures - from complete autonomy, to decision making by the eldest in the family.

Q: Have there been any patients or incidents that stand out in your memory?

So many it's tough to pick one. Taking care of colleagues who trained me, but unfortunately died under my care, was probably the toughest. These cases are complex to manage, since there are so many issues, including the emotional aspects of taking care of a colleague. One starts to think about own mortality and who I want to take care of me when I am dying.

Q: You'll be speaking on the key decisions one needs to make in palliative care. Could you give us an example of the sort of decisions patients commonly need to make?

The common ones that come to mind which occur on a day to day basis are the ones involving decision making regarding the treatment aspects, when to wean and stop treatment, legalities surrounding withdrawal and withholding care, decisions resuscitation issues, medical proxy, and funeral arrangements.

Living Well, Leaving Well will be help on the 22nd of March at Tan Tock Seng. The symposium is open to public, and will touch on the key decisions one will face when moving to palliative care, and also how the family will come in during palliative care.

Registration is free! Sign up here: http://www.hca.org.sg/events/symposium.