Although much attention has been placed on appropriate symptom management at the end of life, little is known about the medications actually prescribed to people in hospice care. The purpose of this study was to determine the most commonly prescribed medications in a population of hospice patients. A retrospective review of a patient information database was conducted. The 6 most common drugs (acetaminophen, morphine, haloperidol, lorazepam, prochlorperazine, and atropine) were included in emergency kits provided to patients at admission. Opioid and nonopioid analgesics, anxiolytics, anticholinergics, and antipsychotics were the most commonly prescribed pharmacologic classes. This description of prescribing practices could be useful in creating more informed care plans, educating health care personnel, and anticipating the changing medication needs of patients as they enter hospice care.
Keywords: end of life; hospice; medication therapy; palliative care; polypharmacy.