Many often falsely believe that hospice kills those who are in their care. Of course people die while receiving hospice; however, they die from their disease process. Not hospice itself. Hospice services honor the natural dying process while managing pain and other symptoms. Patients and family members frequently question the hospice’s use of pain medications and are concerned in addiction occurring-also false. Not every person dying suffers from pain, but those who do are carefully monitored and treated appropriately until the very end.
Hospice professionals are experts in pain management and aim to ease all pain and uncomfortable symptoms for a patient. One may want more medication to ease severe pain, while another may choose to tolerate more discomfort so they can stay more alert. These types of treatment plans are discussed and decided upon with the patient, hospice physician, and loved-ones. Taking into consideration, the best quality of life possible for each individual. The hospice team works together to address all the patient’s needs- from pain and other symptoms, current medication regimens, history of the disease, and emotional and spiritual needs as well.
When opioids are used appropriately, patients do not become addicted, they actually experience huge relief from intolerable pain. It is important to note that tolerance for larger doses can go up as a disease progresses and pain escalates. In these instances the hospice team will do what is needed until comfort is achieved, making med adjustments or trying different combinations of drugs, to name a few. Hospice trusts that patients are accurate judges of their own discomfort. Everything from over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen to the other end of the spectrum-morphine, can be administered. Treatments are chosen based on the patient’s values and beliefs and can change with the patient’s condition. Hospice staff are available around the clock and make regular scheduled visits to support both the patient and family.