Myths about morphine and end-of-life medications can lead to unnecessary suffering. Let's examine some real-life experiences that shed light on the proper use of these medications:

Proper Dosing and Management

In 2017, I cared for a terminally ill patient on an IV morphine drip. I titrated the dose every 30 minutes to manage their respirations. Despite multiple increases, the patient's dosage was far from the maximum limit. Experienced colleagues assured me that such adjustments wouldn't cause harm.

Providing Comfort

In 2018, an actively dying patient received 20 mg of liquid morphine hourly with just three respirations per minute. They experienced peace during their final 36 hours. This example highlights the role of morphine in ensuring comfort during the end-of-life journey.

Individualized Care

On August 10, 2019, I responded to an on-call situation where a patient's family was concerned about their loved one's breathing. Adjusting the morphine dosage and educating the family about alternative comfort measures were essential. It's crucial to recognize that patients' comfort goes beyond .

Effective Comfort Measures

I shared various non-medical techniques to enhance patient comfort:

  • Adjusting patient positioning
  • Using a gentle fan on the cheek
  • Applying cold compresses on the forehead
  • Providing compassionate touch

These methods contribute to a patient's well-being without solely relying on medication.

Hospice: A Compassionate Approach

aims to fulfill patients' comfort desires while supporting them and their families. does not hasten death; it aims to ensure a peaceful and dignified transition. Negative experiences with hospice are rare exceptions.

Understanding Hospice Diversity

Remember that “hospice” is a broad term. Various hospice agencies operate independently, each with its approach to end-of-life care. This diversity ensures that patients receive tailored, compassionate support.

Conclusion

about end-of-life medications is crucial for providing compassionate care. Proper dosing, comfort measures, and individualized support are the cornerstones of effective hospice care. By addressing these topics, we can ensure that patients, families, and understand the journey ahead.

Resources

Hospice Does Not Euthanize

Providing Comfort During the Last Days of Life with Barbara Karnes RN (YouTube Video)

Preparing the patient, family, and caregivers for a “Good Death.”

Velocity of Changes in Condition as an Indicator of Approaching Death (often helpful to answer how soon? or when?)

The Dying Process and the End of Life

The Last Hours of Life

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Gone from My Sight: The Dying Experience

The Eleventh Hour: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death

By Your Side, A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home

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