Palliative care: Questions to ask

Last updated: Thursday, January 21, 2016

You may be asked about a range of clinical problems in the palliative care setting, but many will relate to symptom control or compatibility of medicines in syringe drivers.

If you are asked about symptom control then the indication may be obvious, but ask about the likely cause, and establish what the patient has tried already. You will also usually need to find out what other medicines the patient is taking, and their other significant medical problems. You’ll need to know whether they are able to take medicines orally, and if they can’t what other routes are available (so the intramuscular and rectal routes may be unsuitable if they have low platelets for example).

If you are asked about mixing medicines in a syringe driver then you’ll need to find out the dose of each medicine and the diluent and volume (if known). Even experienced Palliative Medicine consultants check compatibility.