Managing Pain at End-of-Life

Pain Management is a complicated issue for any patient, but even more so for those facing life-threatening illnesses or an end-of-life prognosis. At VNA, our physicians are trained specifically in management of symptoms when quality of life matters so much, when time is short at the end of life.

VNA’s Hospice Medical Director, Dr. Neeta Nayak is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care, and much of her role involves addressing pain management for the critically ill. “There is often the concern that on hospice, patients are started on high-dose medications for pain control that then make them sleep all the time, and they lose valuable time with family and friends as a result. This is a common misconception that we hear so often in hospice. However, in both hospice and palliative care, we strive to manage pain by starting with the lowest dosing possible and then working up only as needed to achieve the patient’s desired result. While there are side effects to all opioid pain medications, we do try to minimize these effects for as long as possible without risking ongoing pain issues.” There are so many options available when it comes to pain management and serious illness, and these fall into one of two categories: slow release, allowing pain medications to enter the bloodstream slowly over time; these take more time to build in the system but may allow for less frequent dosing and more consistent pain management, and immediate release, which result in often faster immediate pain relief but do not last as long and do require more frequent dosing. Our physicians employ whichever option meets the patient’s needs or a combination of treatments to ensure that patients are comfortable and satisfied with their pain relief plan. “Our number one goal is to ensure that patients are able to enjoy quality time with their loved ones, and we tailor our treatment plan around this goal.”~

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by olivia Rogers, RN, BSN, CHpN; Vp, Chief Nursing officer with VNA of Texas