Hospice/Pallative Care Compounding

Bringing dignity and personalization to end-of-life care

Along with physician services to attend to a patient’s medical needs, the skills and caring of a knowledgeable pharmacist are necessary to provide symptom control and pain relief in an end-of-life situation. Pharmacy compounding is quickly becoming a practical and compassionate way to meet these needs. Compounding is the art and science of preparing customized medication for patients, and its resurgence in recent years offers valuable benefits to those in hospice care.

The compounding solution

Why should you ask your physician or pharmacist about compounded medications for hospice care? Because compounding is especially suited to the idea of providing personalized care to a dying patient. Pharmacists play a major role in the hospice environment, as caring for the hospice patient generally centers around providing comfort by using pharmaceuticals to relieve and manage symptoms.

Every individual is unique, and experiences during the end-of-life can vary from person to person. Common symptoms experienced during end-of-life care include pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, bedsores and anxiety – all of which are often best dealt with through compounding. By working closely with a compounding pharmacist, a physician can prescribe a regimen of care which is tailored to the hospice patient’s individual needs, while giving him or her the best quality of life to spend time with loved ones.

Combined Formulations

Ordinarily the first symptom requiring relief is pain, and managing it often requires medication around the clock. Compounding pharmacists can often provide specialized medications for patients who suffer from acute or chronic pain. To keep the administration of medication to a minimum, unique drug combinations can be prepared to allow patients to continue to live normally within their pain threshold.

Alternative Dosages

Many hospice patients have trouble taking medications in traditional dosage forms. In such cases, compounding can provide more appropriate methods of administrating medicine. For instance, a patient who is unable to swallow may be given transdermal gels or creams which carry medication through the skin to help provide relief. Other patients may prefer medications prepared in a flavored troche form. A troche is place between the cheek and gum to dissolve slowly, releasing the drug where it is absorbed through the many blood vessels in the mouth. Medications may also be prepared as suppositories, enemas, oral suspension or even as lollipops.

Strength Variations

In hospice care, it remains vitally important to relieve as much pain as possible while minimizing sedation and adverse side effects. Since patients vary in size and tolerance, commercially available medications often do not provide an appropriate strength. Through compounding, a physician and pharmacist can design a medication to the exact dosage needed by the patient.

Caring for a loved one in a hospice environment can be both challenging and rewarding. Through the relationship between a caring physician and a compounding pharmacist the relief of pain and other symptoms can be tailored to a patient’s specific needs. Ask your physician, hospice provider or pharmacist today about the benefits of personalized compounding.