hospice; morphine; opioids; opioid analgesics; palliative care; analgesia; adherence; medication errors; nursing education research


Other Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences



Hospice and palliative care have been shown to increase patient satisfaction and improve symptom control at the end of life. Opioid analgesics are typically given around the clock at the end of life to maintain symptom control and prevent the need for larger doses later. Many hospice patients have some degree of cognitive impairment, putting them at risk of being undertreated for pain.


This was a retrospective, quasi-experimental study at a 766-bed community hospital with hospice and palliative care services. Adult patients admitted to inpatient hospice care with active orders for scheduled opioids for at least 12 hours with at least 1 dose administered were included. The primary intervention was the creation and dissemination of education to non-intensive care nursing staff. The primary outcome was the administration rate of scheduled opioid analgesics to hospice patients before and after targeted caregiver education. Secondary outcomes included the rate of use of 1-time or as-needed opioids, the rate of use-of-reversal agents, and the impact of COVID-19 infection status on administration rates of scheduled opioids.


A total of 75 patients were included in the final analysis. The rate of missed doses was 5% in the pre-implementation cohort and 4% in the post-implementation cohort (P = .21). The rate of delayed doses was 6% in the pre-implementation cohort and 6% in the post-implementation cohort (P = .97). Secondary outcomes were similar between the two groups with the exception of a higher rate of delayed doses in patients with confirmed COVID-19 as compared to those without COVID-19 (P = .047).


The creation and dissemination of nursing education were not associated with a decrease in missed or delayed doses of scheduled opioids in hospice patients.