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Caring for patients with rare diseases

Palliative care
Nicola Davies explains how compassion is a must when treating patients with less common conditions

Approximately one in 17 people will be affected by a rare disease during their lifetime – that’s about 3.5 million individuals in the UK.1 This means that you will encounter patients with rare diseases during your nursing career. Are you prepared for the idiosyncrasies of caring for this population?

What is a rare disease?

In the UK, the European Union classifies a disease as rare if it affects less than 5 out of 10,000 people in a general population. There are currently between 6,000 to 8,000 known rare diseases in the world, but given the rate at which modern medicine is progressing, about five new rare diseases are described in medical journals every week.2

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