When a patient is in hospice care, their symptoms don’t adhere to an 8 to 5 schedule. Some patients will qualify for 24/7 care, but for those who don’t, an emergency kit is used to treat symptoms that might flare up after hours. These kits will typically contain medication and other treatment methods that will prevent symptoms from happening and quickly treat symptoms when they do happen.
The exact contents of a kit will depend on the unique needs of each patient, but the common symptoms that are covered in most hospice emergency kits are:
Pain- It’s very common for hospice patients to experience severe pain in some form or another. To treat pain that occurs when a doctor is not available to write a prescription, kits might contain some form of morphine.
Anxiety- Going through end of life treatment can understandably cause some stress and anxiety. To ease these symptoms, medication such as Valium can be packed in an emergency kit.
Secretions- Some conditions will cause patients to have uncontrolled secretions (like drooling), which can cause saliva to pool in the back of the patient’s throat. Several medications, as well as extra gauze, can be in a kit to treat these symptoms.
Vomiting- Symptoms of vomiting, or even just constant nausea, can make patients incredibly uncomfortable. Thankfully there are many medications to treat vomiting and nausea that can be included in a hospice emergency kit.
These kits are a lot like car insurance – you hope you never have to use it, but it gives you peace of mind just knowing you have it. The name and contents of a hospice emergency kit will be different from hospice to hospice, but each kit is designed to be a safety net patients can use when their medical director is unavailable.