Palliative care: Information sources

Last updated: Sunday, January 03, 2021

The BNF has a useful section on prescribing in palliative care that covers the management of a range of symptoms including pain, constipation, nausea and vomiting, and restlessness and confusion. It also includes an opioid conversion guide, helpful information about switching between fentanyl or buprenorphine patches and oral morphine, and guidance on using syringe drivers. 

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The Palliative Care Formulary is a detailed guide to prescribing medicines in the palliative care setting. It is published by the Pharmaceutical Press. Their related searchable forum, called the Palliative Care Discussion Board, sits on the Pharmaceutical Press website. Access is free but you need to register. 

Palliative Care Matters is an alternative website to support clinical decision-making in palliative care and also includes a syringe driver compatibility database and links to a range of guidelines.

Andrew Dickman and Jennifer Schneider’s book The Syringe Driver is only available in paper form, but is a comprehensive guide to administering and mixing medicines in syringe drivers. The section on individual drugs at the beginning of the book brings together lots of really helpful information in one place.

There are a range of helpful Clinical Knowledge Summaries on the topic including pain, secretions, dyspnoea and cough.

Remember to check if you have any local guidelines from your palliative care team.

SPS has guidance about opioid conversions in the palliative setting which goes into more detail than other resources. Find it on the SPS website.

Be careful about conducting a general internet search on this subject. If you do, you may like to look at our brief guide to evaluating websites about medicines.

Presenting your answer 

Once you’ve asked sufficient questions, gathered the information required and assessed it, you’ll need to provide an answer. We can offer you some general guidance on answering clinical problems.