Symptom relief kit
Waterloo Wellington Hospice Palliative Care Network
Symptom Response Kit
Clinical Guidelines (Kit is for emergency purposes only)
Notify the Physician if any of these symptoms develop. Obtain specific orders for each patient if possible
Call physician for opioid orders to relieve discomfort of breathlessness.
Recommended Treatment for Dyspnea and related anxiety
If patient is on opioids, give regular breakthrough doses to treat dyspnea.
Starting doses for the opiate naïve patient may be:
Morphine 3-5 mg (0.2-0.33 ml) sc q1h prn
Open window, fan blowing air, quiet calm atmosphere
Consider oxygen therapy at low flow rate
COPD Considerations: Ensure bronchodilators
and other concomitant therapies
Current cardiac medications should be continued when
implementing dyspnea and other EOL clinical guidelines.
Identify possible cause: rectal impaction, urinary retention, an increase in pain,
medications (opioids, corticosteroids), metabolic derangements (diabetes,
hypercalcemia), dehydration, hypoxia, infection and brain metastases.
Treat the cause if appropriate.
Identify goal of treatment:
(haloperidol) is used to clear sensorium with minimal sedation
to clear sensorium with some sedation or
(Call physician for orders) if sedation is the primary
goal and/or other treatments failed.
) 0.5 -1.0 mg (0.1-0.2 ml) sc q4h prn
Notify physician of current pain status and use of analgesics in past 24
hours, to obtain further orders.
Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is 5 times
more potent than morphine.
Dexamethasone may be added to manage escalating pain.
Midazolam (Versed) 5 mg sc to treat grand mal seizures (call physician for
orders). May repeat q 20 minutes x 3. Transfer to hospital if ineffective.
Keep calming environment for patient and family.
Scopolamine (hyoscine hydrobromide) 0.4 mg sc q4h prn
(most frequently reported adverse effects are dry mouth and drowsiness - may
cause or worsen delirium in conscious patients)
Periodic mouth care should be done for comfort. If secretions are in the airways and patient is too weak to clear them, try repositioning the patient on their side, with their head slightly lowered for positional drainage. Counsel family that the rattling is normal at this stage (obtunded terminal patients). Scopolamine reduces new secretions, but does not clear existing secretions.
may be useful for mild anxiety but it can cause a worsening of
symptoms in some patients if delirium is the cause (call physician for orders).
Revised: Jan 11, 2006 November 12, 2009
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