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Opioids in palliative care

Opioids are often offered in palliative care to help reduce pain and breathlessness.

Prescribing opioids in palliative care settings often forms part of a wider consultation on disease status and other important matters in the palliative care context. Starting and titrating doses of opioids is sometimes complicated and can happen in hospital wards, clinics and outpatient settings. Therefore, it is important for verbal discussion to be backed by written guidance to help to improve pain management and patient safety, as recommended by NICE guidance:

Our patient information guide to taking opioids in palliative care settings aims to be a useful take-home supplement to consultations during which opioid treatment has been discussed, considered or prescribed.

The guide uses a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ model, so that patients and carers can dip into it whenever they need. There is a diary at the end of the guide, which patients, or their carers, can fill in to highlight important issues, such as how many doses of fast-acting breakthrough opioid they have taken in the last few days.

⇩ Opioids in palliative care - patient information guide (English) 185KB (PDF)
⇩ Opioids in palliative care - patient information guide (Welsh) 586KB (PDF)
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