A Review of Agents for Palliative Sedation/Continuous Deep Sedation: Pharmacology and Practical Applications

Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy
John Bodnar


Continuous deep sedation at the end of life is a specific form of palliative sedation requiring a care plan that essentially places and maintains the patient in an unresponsive state because their symptoms are refractory to any other interventions. Because this application is uncommon, many providers may lack practical experience in this specialized area and resources they can access are outdated, nonspecific, and/or not comprehensive. The purpose of this review is to provide an evidence- and experience-based reference that specifically addresses those medications and regimens and their practical applications for this very narrow, but vital, aspect of hospice care. Patient goals in a hospital and hospice environments are different, so the manner in which widely used sedatives are dosed and applied can differ greatly as well. Parameters applied in end-of-life care that are based on experience and a thorough understanding of the pharmacology of those medications will differ from those applied in an intensive care unit or other medical environments. By recognizing these different goals and applying well-founded regimens geared specifically for end-of-life sedation, we can address our patients' symptoms in a more timely and efficac...Continue Reading


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