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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
In its 'Dying Well' report published in September last year, the Grattan Institute said 14% of Australians die in their own home. The option of care at home is often well-received by patients and carers alike. Enablers for people to remain at home include support from their general practitioner (GP) as well as access to good symptom control.
Given the small proportion of people who require support at home in the last days of life and the infrequency of managing this patient group, there are some simple tips for GPs to consider with regards to prescribing medicines. These five tips help the GP to anticipate the barriers to timely access to good symptom control and possibly avoid an unnecessary hospitalisation for an issue that could have been effectively managed in the community.
Standard Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) rules apply to each of these medicines.
Anticipating the range of medicines you are likely to prescribe and discussing this with the community pharmacist ensures that the particular medicines that are prescribed are also the ones that are available. While there are many challenges that affect the care of palliative patients in their home environment, access to medicines for the relief of frequently anticipated symptoms should not be one of them.
Paul Tait is the Lead Palliative Care Pharmacist with Southern Adelaide Palliative Services at the Repatriation General Hospital.