When a patient begins receiving hospice care, a medication review is one of the first things we do at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. This review ensures that the patient is receiving the very best combination of medication for their current needs and goals.
By the time most terminally ill patients begin hospice care, they typically have been receiving treatment for a variety of medical ailments for some time. With each new diagnosis and each new physician, new medication is prescribed. At times, this occurs without the physician being aware of all the medications their patient is already taking which leads to patients unknowingly taking multiple medications that do the same thing or even being prescribed a combination medications that cause an adverse reaction when used together.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has found that one in six hospital admissions of older adults is due to an adverse drug event. For those over 75 years of age, the number jumps to one in three.
A medication review takes stock of all the prescriptions a patient is on and adjusts them, adding or subtracting medications as needed.
Goals of Care
A medication review should happen any time a patient’s goals of care change. When a terminally ill patient shifts their focus to comfort care instead of curative, it is natural that some prescription medications will no longer be applicable. For example, medications that are designed to provide long-term benefits to cholesterol levels may no longer be necessary. While other medications such as those that maintain daily blood sugar levels will likely continue. Our team creates a comprehensive care plan designed to meet each individual patient’s needs.
Most importantly, the focus of hospice care is providing pain and symptom management, so there will be new hospice medications prescribed to meet those goals. Prescription medication should also be expected to change as a patient’s condition changes. If a patient is no longer able to swallow, prescriptions may change to liquid forms or be discontinued altogether. Families will also be provided with a hospice emergency kit to keep in the home to be able to rapidly treat new symptoms.
The patient’s hospice team will educate family caregivers on the hospice medications being prescribed or discontinued and will train caregivers on how to administer all medications. Medication and medical supplies used to treat symptoms of the patient’s terminal illness are covered 100% by Medicare.
For more information on the tools and techniques Crossroads uses for pain and symptom management, please call us at 1-888-564-3405.
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