There are various ways that hospice care differs from standard treatment in hospitals or other medical centers. The primary difference is the aim of the care. Much of the medicines in hospitals are prescribed to successfully treat the patient’s condition and even bring about recovery. This care may result in some treatments that come with adverse side effects. On the other hand, hospice care is typically recommended when it is evident that the patient will likely succumb to their condition within the next six months.
Because treatment of the patient’s condition has been all but suspended, there may be fairly significant changes to their regular medications.
A patient’s main medications in a hospital setting are in an attempt to treat their condition. These medications may have adverse side-effects, many of which are treated with secondary medicines. An example of this may be chemotherapy, which is known to have immensely harmful side-effects. Secondary medications may be administered to alleviate such side-effects, such as anti-nausea drugs and the like.
Most medications administered to hospice patients are not intended to treat an illness, but rather to alleviate discomfort. Some of the more common drugs are morphine (used to relieve pain and to steady breathing), Lorazepam (used to treat anxiety and agitation), Levsin (used as a drying agent to prevent the build-up of excess fluid in the back of the throat), and Haldol (used to treat agitation and nausea). Many other medications may be used for similar purposes, depending on the needs and sensitivities of the patient.
No two patients are the same, making careful dosage considerations crucial for quality hospice care. Doctors, specialized hospice nurses, and any other caretakers must work together to ensure optimum care for hospice patients.