Managing Pain in Hospice


Symptom Control and Medication

Pain management is an essential goal in hospice, and it’s a top priority at Our Lady of Peace Residential and Community Hospice. Our doctors and nurses work diligently to keep patients comfortable, with an overall goal of giving them the highest quality of life until the end.

Dr. Nancy Baker says that Our Lady of Peace does especially well with managing symptoms related to a serious illness. She said, “OLP is able to use medications that are not routinely used in the community due to 24-hour staffing of nurses who are able to watch closely for side effects.”  She added, “The OLP pharmacist makes recommendations to our physicians and advises them on therapies that may be appropriate, and they can make rapid adjustments as necessary, to manage those symptoms.”

Pain is most troublesome to terminally ill patients. Confusion can also occur near end of life for a variety of reasons, and anxiety is also prevalent, for obvious reasons. We can manage these three conditions very effectively, time and time again.

It’s not uncommon for patients to come to us having experienced other serious illnesses and are on medications that we find no longer useful or appropriate in a hospice setting. In many cases, they are no longer effective; plus we want to avoid negative drug interactions that could occur if combined with pain medications. Again, this is where our pharmacist does an excellent job of advising patients, families, and our medical team.

Most of our patients have heard of Morphine, Fentanyl, Dilaudid, Norco, and Hydrocodone. We also effectively use Methadone. Many are concerned about its use because of what they’ve heard about the use of this drug in the community. Dr. Baker says, “Let me assure you that we are comfortable and confident administering this medication along with several others and we do not experience the worrisome outcomes you’ve heard about when used for other purposes.” Our doctors and nurses want to address your concerns before administering medications, so we urge you to jot down your questions and ask them in advance of your arrival at OLP.

Beyond physical symptoms, there are psychological and emotional pieces that contribute to how our patients feel. So, we’re committed to looking at the total person to assess what they need and how we can meet those needs. Again, it’s all about giving our patients the highest quality of life possible.