Questions about medications

Our Chief Nursing Officer, Olivia Rogers, answers questions from patients and their families.

Dear Olivia,

We are considering putting my aunt on hospice for a longterm illness that is worsening. Our biggest reservation is that we have heard that once someone goes on hospice, the regular medications are stopped, and morphine is started. She’s been on some of these medications for years and they really seem to help her. If we choose hospice, do we have to stop all regular medications?

~Questions about medications

Dear Questions about medications,

There is a common misconception about hospice that when someone elects hospice, they have to give up all of their other medications and start “comfort” medications right away, such as morphine. At VNA, we try to dispel this myth, as it is our goal to treat the whole patient and not only the terminal illness. We aim to do whatever is necessary to enhance someone’s quality of life. Many of our patients continue maintenance medications, such as blood pressure medications, diabetes drugs, sleep aides, and antibiotics. We will not discontinue medications unless it has been determined by the physician that there is potential harm or they are no longer beneficial. Decisions are made collaboratively between the patient, family and the doctor. Every hospice treatment plan is as unique as the patient.