There are no secret passwords in medicine, no mysterious handshakes or signals to use when seeking the best care for a serious illness.
But experts say two words come close: palliative care.
Many people have never heard of palliative care, a comprehensive service that aims to relieve suffering in people with serious illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease or kidney failure.
Some patients and even many doctors confuse palliative medicine with hospice, a form of palliative care for people in the last six months of life. Other patients mistakenly worry that doctors won't work as hard to cure them if they ask for palliative care, says Gail Cooney, former president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Those notions could change in light of recent research.