One of the first things that will be done when a person is first enrolled in a hospice program is a review of the medications being taken. This is a necessary step in the hospice care process. There are a number of reasons why this is done, but here are a few that may ease any concerns you have.
Avoiding Overprescribing The medical field is much more specialized today than it was in the past. This means that doctors can really focus their energy and their learning on a very specific field, thereby becoming true experts in that area. That is good news for patients. Unfortunately, near the end of life, terminally ill patients are often registered patients of multiple doctors. Although medical charts and patient interviews are helping to prevent over prescription, it does still happen. This can mean that a patient is taking multiple medications that do the same thing or, worse yet, can mean that the patient is taking medications that can combine and have adverse reactions. The medication review performed by the hospice team is meant to discover any such potential problems.
Introducing New Medications, it is also possible that the hospice team will recommend and prescribe new medications to treat pain or other symptoms. This goes hand-in-hand with the primary goal of hospice — to provide comfort.
Adjusting to Patient Health Changes As time goes by, it is also expected that the patient’s condition will change and that will lead to further medication reviews, which are meant to reevaluate which medications are most essential for the treatment of the patient’s current symptoms.
Adjusting to the Changing Wishes of the Patient Often in cases of terminal illness, eventually it will be decided that the focus of treatment should shift from attempting to cure to providing comfort. When this happens, certain medications will no longer be necessary. This may be addressed with the initial medication review, or with a second review upon that decision being made.