Chapter 2: Explaining common clinical issues
The role of medication
It’s important to ensure the family clearly understands the role of medication. There’s a common misconception that pain medications, including morphine, are used to hasten death. This isn’t the case.
People receiving a medication for prolonged periods often develop a tolerance that may require increasing doses to achieve the same result. For this reason, patients at the end of life may be taking very high doses to control their symptoms. While these would be lethal to anyone else, they’re safe for patients who’ve been taking the medication for some time. They’ll be carefully monitored by their direct care team.
The following three prompts help to avoid misunderstanding and misinformation:
What’s your understanding of how morphine is being used in this situation?
I'm going to give this medication now. My goal is to help him be more comfortable and less agitated. Do you have any questions?
- See also:Frequently asked question: Does morphine make death come sooner?Frequently asked question: What's the difference between hydromorphone, morphine, Dilaudid®, and fentanyl patches?