The Medicines Management Group (a multidisciplinary team comprising of medical, nursing and pharmacy representation) at an independent hospice has developed a patient information leaflet (PIL) on strong opioids. This decision was made in response to the recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on ‘Opioids in palliative care: safe and effective prescribing of strong opioids for pain in palliative care of adults’(1) which recommends that verbal communication between healthcare professionals and patients about their medicines should be supported by evidence based, written information. The aim was to produce a PIL which was NICE guidance compliant and which also contained other salient information relating to the use of strong opioids. The PIL is titled "Morphine and other opioid painkillers for moderate to severe pain" and contains the following section headings:
Using Opioids - why prescribed, preparation and how to take, managing breakthrough pain
Side effects - common side effects, what to do if experiencing side effects
Driving and Travelling
Other Information - collecting from pharmacy, opioids and alcohol, storage, disposal
There is also the facility on the front cover of the PIL for the dispensing pharmacy to stick duplicate labels of strong opioid medicines dispensed so that patients and carers know to which drugs the PIL refers. The PIL produced has, if locally adapted, wide potential for use in any palliative care organisation and pharmacy dispensing strong opioids for moderate to severe pain in the UK.
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