Development of a clinical practice guideline for palliative sedation

J Palliat Med. 2003 Jun;6(3):345-50. doi: 10.1089/109662103322144655.


Palliative sedation is an effective symptom control strategy for patients who suffer from intractable symptoms at the end of life. Evidence suggests that the use of this practice varies considerably. In order to minimize variation in the practice of palliative sedation within our health region, we developed a clinical practice guideline (CPG) for the use of palliative sedation. Using available evidence from the literature, a five step process was employed to develop the CPG: (1) a working group was charged with the mandate to develop a draft guideline; (2) a working definition for palliative sedation was developed; (3) criteria for use of sedation were determined; (4) critical steps to be taken prior to initiation of sedation were defined; and (5) the CPG was reviewed by local stakeholders. Feedback from the wider group of stakeholders was used to arrive at the final CPG, which subsequently received approval from the local Medical Advisory Board. The process used to develop the CPG served to develop consensus within the local community of palliative care clinicians regarding the practice of palliative sedation. Subsequently, the CPG was used as a tool for educating other health care providers.

MeSH terms

  • Conscious Sedation*
  • Humans
  • Pain, Intractable / drug therapy*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Terminal Care*