Morphine and pain in Hospice

Morphine and pain in Hospice



Morphine and Pain in Hospice

Morphine is one of the medications used in hospice and palliative care as a pain medication for patients mostly in incidences where other medicines and analgesics have fail to aid in alleviating or reducing the pain and suffering of the patient. The use of morphine is a practice that most hospice care facilities have advocated for as it is good pain control for terminally and chronically ill patients who are suffering and are faced with near death. Morphine use in hospice is a practise that is mostly recommended by physicians or medical practitioner only with the aim of relieving the dying patients by handling those symptoms. It is an opioid medication that is applied to patients suffering from cancer and other serious ailments that result to severe physical pain.

The issue of morphine and pain in hospice is crucial and has received much attention from society and more so, the stakeholders in the medical sector citing that it have become essential. Bearing in mind that hospice care is all about alleviating pain and allowing the dying patients to die with dignity, then the two parties, society and medical as well as health care providers, have had to come to term to the extreme measure of taking up the use of these drug to achieve the goal, which is, less or no pain as the terminally ill patient nears his or her death. It has been noted that poorly managed pain for terminally and chronically ill patient is one of the greatest fear and in most cases may result to the untimely death of the patients in instances where there body systems cannot handle the pain the arises from the ailments and symptoms that the patients possess. This therefore makes the use of morphine in dealing with pain for terminally ill patients who are in hospice care very essential and ultimately important to both the dying patients as well as their family member who wish to spend time with their ailing family members without worrying much about the pain that they may be suffering (Hester, 2011).

There are two main ways of administering morphine medication, one being orally and the other being intravenously. The most common form used in hospice and palliative care is the oral morphine solution as it is easy give. This form allows large doses of morphine to be given but in small amounts of the medication as it is quite concentrated. This works best for patients that are unable to swallow pills due to their sickly conditions. The oral solution works considerably fast and begins to take effect in a span of fifteen minutes and lasts for a maximum of four hours. It is quite effective in pain control and can be used often though the only major issue for this is the bitter taste of the solution as it is recommended that it ought not to be mixed with other liquids. This oral solution is given by a dosing spoon or a dropper provided at a pharmacy and ought to be taken accurately since it is very concentrated and an overdose can be detrimental (Maul, 2010).

The morphine medication can also be taken in the form of capsules or tablets that are in rapid release and extended release formula and works just as the oral solution, within the time span but are recommended only for patients with continuing moderate to severe pain. The other forms of delivery are by use of an injection into the body muscles or intravenously though these two approaches are heavily depended on the availability of a medical practitioner to administer it effectively and with no complications. These two approaches are only recommended in instances where the patients are in too much pain and hence their bodies need a continuous supply of the morphine drug so as to handle the pain, as is the main ain of being in hospice care (Bruera et al, 2011).

Though the use of morphine has been adopted all over the world and used to handle pain in the medical field as well as in hospice care, there have been numerous concerns on the side effects that the drug may have on the patients. Some of the side effects are drowsiness experienced by the patient and in some instances; there occurs the slowing down of the respiratory rate which may prove detrimental if it reaches the extreme level of stopping the patients breathing. This brings up the issue that is based on the principle of the double effect. This can be explained as a medical concept in which medication administered is beneficial as well as detrimental. In the case of morphine, the medication serves to alleviate pain but also, it has the capacity to lower the patient’s respiratory rate to the point of respiratory depression that may result in an unintended death. This therefore required that that use and administration of the drug be keenly and strictly controlled in amounts given to patients so as to avoid such happenings from taking place (Pattinson, 2011).

Despite the ethical concerns raised above, the importance of morphine use as a medication to alleviate pain for patients in hospice is crucial and cannot be ignored. Such issues can only be addressed adequately by medical practitioners and researchers being more deliberate in finding a way in which the side effects can be minimised if not eliminated completely so as to achieve a workable solution of handling the pain and suffering of terminally ill patients that are in hospice care.


Bruera, E., & Yennurajalingam, S. (2011). Oxford American handbook of hospice and palliative medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fishman, S., Ballantyne, J., Rathmell, J. P., & Bonica, J. J. (2010). Bonica’s management of pain. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Hester, J. (2011). Interventional pain control in cancer pain management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mauk, K. L. (2010). Gerontological nursing: Competencies for care. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Pattinson, S. (2011). The final journey: Complete hospice care for the departing Vaishnavas. Badger, Calif: Torchlight Pub.

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