Patients receiving hospice care may experience trouble breathing or sleeping, nausea or vomiting, or other discomforts. These symptoms often arise unexpectedly or worsen quickly, so it’s important to have medications on hand that can provide relief right away.
VNS Health Hospice Care provides a hospice comfort pack, sometimes referred to as a hospice emergency kit. The pack contains a small supply of emergency medications that can be used to relieve common symptoms without the need to fill a prescription and wait for it to be delivered. The medications in the pack should be used only when the VNS Health hospice nurse or physician directs you to use them. Your hospice nurse will go over the medications in the pack so you understand how to use them and when.
The Hospice Comfort Pack:
- Is delivered to your home
- Should be placed in the refrigerator when it arrives
- Has a seal or packaging that should not be opened until the pack is needed
- Contains medications that should never be used without instruction from a hospice nurse or physician
- Is for hospice patients only — do not let others use the medications
Medications in the Comfort Pack
- Acetaminophen suppository
Generic version of Tylenol, placed in the rectum to relieve mild pain or fever.
- Haloperidol (Haldol) liquid oral solution
Given by mouth for restlessness or confusion
- Atropine ophthalmic solution
Given under the tongue to dry up secretions in the mouth and throat
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
Swallowed by mouth and helps relieve anxiety, restlessness, or trouble sleeping
- Morphine sulfate liquid concentrated solution (Roxanol)
Swallowed by mouth to relieve pain or shortness of breath
- Prochlorperazine (Compazine) suppository
Placed in the rectum to relieve nausea or vomiting
- Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) suppository
Placed into the rectum to relieve constipation
Hospice patients may receive other medicines, depending on their diagnosis. For example, a patient at risk for seizures may receive antiseizure medications. Some pain medications can cause severe constipation, so patients on methadone or opiates may receive additional laxatives or enemas. The hospice nurse will work with the patient and caregiver to ensure that the right medications are provided in the pack.