A palliative care emergency is a sudden and life-threatening change in a person’s condition. Emergencies may be completely unexpected, but some may be anticipated during assessment.
The general principles of medical management of bowel obstruction are:
If pharmacological treatment is required, an antipsychotic should be tried first. Haloperidol is the best studied medication in this setting. Benzodiazepines have the potential to worsen delirium, and should be used with caution if there is a need for sedation.
The best predictor of functional outcome from radiotherapy for spinal cord compression is the degree of neurological deficit at the time treatment is started.
See Clinical pathway for managing metastatic spinal cord compression
Sometimes people can deteriorate suddenly. In this case anticipatory medicines may not have been arranged. The PBS prescriber's bag list (147kb pdf) includes a number of medications that can be used to relieve symptoms in this situation.
View NICE's Metastatic Spinal cord compression pathway
Visit Marie Curie's Recognising Emergencies
Download GRPCC Clinical Practice Group: Palliative Care Emergencies
Last updated 24 August 2021