Microsoft word - palliativesedationprotocol.doc

the Standards and Best Practices Committee Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of MA Palliative Sedation Subcommittee: Chair: The medications that are included in this protocol are to be used as a guide only. Clinical decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis. Copyright, 2004. Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of MA PALLIATIVE SEDATION PROTOCOL

Purpose and Definitions
Palliative Sedation
is the monitored use of medications (sedatives, barbiturates,
neuroleptics, hypnotics, benzodiazepines or anesthetic medication) to relieve refractory
and unendurable physical, spiritual, and/or psychosocial distress for patients with a
terminal diagnosis, by inducing varied degrees of unconsciousness. The purpose of the
medication(s) is to provide comfort and relieve suffering and not to hasten death.
Refractory Symptoms that justify the use of Palliative Sedation are symptoms that
cannot be adequately controlled despite aggressive efforts by the interdisciplinary team to
provide timely, tolerable therapies that do not compromise consciousness.
Ethical Issues/Justification
The justification for Palliative Sedation is based on the principles of beneficence, non-
maleficence, autonomy, and fidelity. The intent of Palliative Sedation is the relief of
suffering and not to end the patient’s life. Congruent to this intent, the outcome is that the
patient is made unaware of un-endurable suffering through sedation. According to the
principle of autonomy an individual has the right to decide care for themselves according
to their values, beliefs, or life plan. Informed consent is required in order to make
autonomous decisions based on the risks and benefits of any intervention. When a
patient no longer has capacity to make decisions for himself/herself, the principle of
fidelity, which includes the promise not to abandon another, allows a designated health
care proxy or patient representative who knows the patient’s wishes, to make informed
decisions regarding the patient’s care.

Assumptions regarding appropriateness of palliative sedation.
Palliative Sedation is used only when there are refractory symptoms Generally the patient’s prognosis is hours to days. The intent of palliative sedation is control of suffering, not to hasten death An interdisciplinary team is involved in completing a comprehensive assessment and determining the plan of care The patient, or if lacking capacity, the patient’s representative, family, physician, and the interdisciplinary team collaborate regarding the appropriate utilization of Palliative Sedation. Informed consent is obtained from the patient if possible or from the patient’s health care proxy or designated representative For existential suffering “respite” sedation can be considered for a limited amount of time. Patients requiring respite sedation may not have a prognosis of hours to days. Palliative sedation in a setting other than a hospice inpatient unit or hospital will require the presence of continuous care licensed nurses for a minimum of the first twenty four hours of care. A competent hospice team member must document daily confirmation of effectiveness of the treatment. Staff competency must be demonstrated in the provision of palliative sedation Hospice providers will discuss the provision of hydration and nutrition as a separate intervention with the patient and family Procedures:
Whenever a patient experiences refractory symptoms, palliative sedation may be considered as an intervention to control unendurable suffering. A decision to initiate palliative sedation must be preceded by a comprehensive interdisciplinary assessment of the patient and a discussion of treatment expectations and options Informed consent is required of the patient, or in cases where the patient lacks decision-making capacity, by their health care proxy or designated representative. A discussion of the risks and benefits of palliative sedation will be part of the informed consent process. The written consent for Palliative Sedation will be obtained The patient’s primary physician will be involved in the decision to initiate palliative sedation. The patient’s physician and the hospice medical director must agree on the decision to implement palliative sedation. Palliative sedation may be implemented in an inpatient setting or at home. For patients who remain at home a continuous care nurse must be provided at least twenty-four hours. If conflicts or disagreements arise relative to initiation of palliative sedation a consultation with the hospice ethics committee is recommended The patient’s primary physician or hospice medical director will write the order for palliative sedation (see attached medication guidelines) Once the patient is sedated, medications are not increased unless there is evidence of renewed distress. A lowering of the dose of the sedatives may be attempted at the discretion of the physician, or at the request of the patient’s representative. “First stage anesthesia” is the goal of sedation. First stage anesthesia is defined as the onset of disorientation to loss of consciousness. The eyelash reflex is used to assess level of sedation. A soft tactile stroke over a closed eyelid should cause a reduced flicker/reflex in a first state anesthesia. A lack of flicker (reflex) indicates deep sedation and a need to cut back on the dose. Decrease in sedatives will be initiated if the patient experiences, heavy
snoring, and abrupt onset of apnea. Gradual deterioration of respiration is
expected in terminal patients and should not alone constitute a reason to
decrease sedation
A registered nurse will assess the patient continuously during initiation of therapy and every one-hour until the dose is adjusted to a stable dose. The nurse will monitor the patient for any adverse effect. Sedation will not be attempted by increasing opioid dosages, however opioids will be continued at the previous level in order to ensure pain management and to prevent opioid withdrawal. Consent Form
PALLIATIVE SEDATION FOR REFRACTORY SUFFERING CONSENT FORM Patient name__________________________ Documentation of refractory suffering:________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Palliative measures previously attempted:______________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Outcomes of previously attempted palliative measures:___________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Patient _____ Health Care Proxy/Patient representative _____ (check one) ( ) Able to respond intelligibly to queries ( ) Able to take a part rationally in decision-making ( ) Nature and progress of stage of terminal illness (prognosis) ( ) Nature and possible impact of proposed controlled sedation ( ) Limitation, side effects, and risks of the proposed controlled sedation. ( ) Issues related to hydration and nutrition during sedation
( ) I am aware that Dr.___________________ (primary physician) agrees with the
plan to initiate palliative sedation.
With knowledge of the risks discussed by the physician(s), I consent to controlled
sedation for refractory suffering.
Date_________ _______________________________________ _____________

Patient or authorized representative signature relationship
Physician Signature________________________________________ Date__________
Billings, J.A. & Block, S.D. (1996). Slow Euthanasia. Journal of Palliative Care, 12(4), 21-30. Braun, T., Hagen, N., Clark, T (2003) Development of a Clinical Practice Guideline for Palliative Sedation. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 6(3), 345-350. Clinical Practice Guideline For: Palliative Sedation. Calgary Regional Health Authority 2002 Controlled Sedation for Refractory Suffering. (2003) Policy: San Diego Hospice Corporation Hospice and Palliative Care Clinical Practice Protocol: Terminal Restlessness. (1997) Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. HPNA Position Paper (2003) Palliative Sedation at the End of Life. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. l5(4), 235-237 Lanuke, K., Fainsinger, R., DeMoissac, D., Archibald, J. (2003) Two Remarkable Dyspneic Men: When Should Terminal Sedation be Administered? Journal of Palliative Medicine 6(2), 2003, 277-281. Lynch, M., (2003) Palliative Sedation. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 7(6) 653-657. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. (2001) Total Sedation: A Hospice and Palliative Care Resource Guide. Alexandria, VA: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Quill, T., Brock, I. (2000) Responding to Intractable Terminal Suffering: The Role of Terminal Sedation and Voluntary Refusal of Food and Fluids. Annals of Internal Medicine, 132(5) 408-414. Rousseau, P., (2002) Palliative Sedation. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care. 19 (5), 295-297. Zablocki, (2002) Total Sedation Policy. VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI Drug Name/
Side effects or
Incremental dose for
Issues to consider/
starting dose
adverse reaction
(these are
Hiccups, decreased *Hourly maintenance Drug of choice for “respite
dose should be 25-
33% of the required
induction dose
dose every 2 hours based on Drug has minimal Titrate dose in increments of For bolus dosing, dilute Drug Name/
Side effects or
Incremental dose for
Issues to consider/
starting dose
adverse reactions
Drug incompatibilities
Increase in increments of 30 Drug has long half life and Johnson Syndrome, Increase in 1 mg/kg/hr Dilute drug with half-normal saline, normal saline, D5W, lactated Ringer’s or Ringer’s solution Good choice for patient with Drug has no analgesic every 4-12 hrs can lower seizure hypotension and injection or normal saline for injection Drug name/
Side effects or
Incremental dose for
Issues to consider/ IV
Starting Dose
Maintenance Interactions
adverse reactions
Note: Dose ranges are highly variable, determined by patient weight, renal and hepatic function, state of hydration, concurrent medication use and other variables. Start low and titrate the dose to the desired clinical end point. Doses should be increased by approximately 30% every hour until sedation is achieved. Once the desired sedation is achieved the dose is usually maintained at that level as long as the patient seems comfortable. Previous doses of opioids and other symptom relieving medications should be continued Palliative Sedation


The purpose of this clinical competency is to provide the learner with the knowledge and skills to
assess, initiate and evaluate palliative sedation as an appropriate procedure for patients with
intractable physical and non-physical suffering.

After completing this competency and related learning activities, the learner will be able to:
1. Define palliative sedation and differentiate it from routine and aggressive symptom control including management of terminal restlessness. 2. Discuss the ethical, legal and clinical issues in the assessment and initiation of palliative 3. Outline the steps of an effective palliative sedation process. 4. List the responsibilities of the interdisciplinary team before, during and after the palliative
Patient Care Manager
Agency Medical Director

Clinical Competency - Palliative Sedation
Provide the learner with the knowledge and skills to assess, initiate and evaluate palliative sedation as an appropriate procedure for patients with intractable physical and non-physical pain. LEARNER ACTIVITIES DATES
A Hospice and Palliative Care Resource Guide. (This document must be ordered from NHPCO) 2. Hospice and Palliative Care Federation Palliative Sedation Protocol Discuss with preceptor:
1. Definition of palliative sedation 2. How palliative sedation differs from the management of terminal restlessness clinical issues in the assessment Palliative Sedation by Maureen Lynch from and initiation of palliative Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing 7(6), Discuss with preceptor:
- the incidence of palliative sedation
- at least four intractable symptoms
for the appropriate use of palliative
- the clinical guidelines for palliative
- the ethical issues of palliative sedation including: 1 the principle of beneficence 3 circumstances where the initiation of palliative sedation would be unethical palliative sedation including - use of non-drug therapies - use of the interdisciplinary team - education 2. at least four drug classifications used for palliative sedation and their recommended dose ranges 3. the clinical signs used to assess the level of sedation 4. clinical symptoms that would determine dosage reduction 5. Review the enclosed case study 6. Discuss with preceptor the steps you would take to provide the palliative care protocol to this patient Discuss with the preceptor the role of the palliative sedation - the medical director - agency pharmacist - primary care nurse - interdisciplinary team - patient and family
Preceptor’s Signature: _________________________________________ Date________
Learner’s Signature: ___________________________________________ Date________

Clinical Competency
Palliative Sedation
1. What is the definition of palliative sedation? 2. When is palliative sedation an appropriate treatment intervention for patients and their families? 3. Define the ethical principles that are relevant to the use of palliative sedation. 4. What clinical sign is used to determine the appropriate level of palliative sedation? 5. What is the role of the patient and family before, during and after the initiation of palliative sedation? Case Study
Mr. Z. is a 48-year-old white, married male who lives at home with his wife, 10 year old son and 14-year-old daughter. He was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer one year ago and despite surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy his disease has progressed. He has a large palpable tumor in the left lower quadrant of his abdomen, metastasis to the liver, and to the retroperitoneal area. Kidney function is impaired. His condition is deteriorating rapidly. His symptoms include severe pain, occasional diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Mrs. Z. must work out of the home every day in order to maintain health insurance for the family. She is scheduled to begin a two-week vacation from work. Mr. Z. is very close to his children and they are distressed with their father’s rapid deterioration. During the last two weeks Mr. Z’s pain has been rapidly escalating. The interdisciplinary team has tried various opioids, corticosteroids and other adjuvants. Currently the pain regimen includes the use of a PCA with continuous morphine SQ as well as neurontin at the maximum dose for treating shooting pain in the rectal area. He uses an anti-emetic as needed with fair control of nausea and vomiting. Medications have needed to be adjusted every twenty-four to forty-eight hours in response to increases in pain. He has been evaluated for a nerve block and an epidural infusion but is a poor candidate. He describes his “pain and his life as un-endurable suffering and that he cannot bear to be such a burden to his family”. He has stated on several occasions that he does not want his children to remember him this way. His po intake at this point is minimal. He is restless and asks hospice to “do something” to end his suffering.


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