Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Anticipatory prescribing in community end-of-life care


Objectives Our work aims to critically review the use of anticipatory medicines in our inner-city hospice community population and whether our current practices are fit for purpose.

Methods Retrospective audit of community palliative care patients at the end-of-life prescribed anticipatory medicines within a 3-month period. Anticipatory charts and case notes reviewed. Intervention included updating local guidelines, local teaching for medical and non-medical prescribers and sharing results nationally. Eighteen months later, reaudit was performed assessing impact.

Results In total, 76 patients included. 75/76 (99%) were prescribed an analgesic, antiemetic, antisecretory and anxiolytic. 49/76 (64%) were administered ‘as required’ medications at home. Haloperidol was the favoured antiemetic (88%), costing our hospice ~£2000/month. Case note review highlighted prescribing and administration issues. Reaudit showed a reduction in prescriptions of antisecretory (by 57%) and antiemetic (by 50%), with a wider range of antiemetics (levomepromazine 47%, haloperidol 35%, cyclizine 14%, metoclopramide 3%) indicating individualised prescribing. Those without an antiemetic prescribed did not later require one dispensing.

Conclusion Our work challenges the orthodoxy that an analgesic, antiemetic, antisecretory and anxiolytic medication must always be included for effective anticipatory prescribing. Antiemetics may not be universally required and individualised prescribing was cost-effective and safe at a local level. Further work evaluating the impacts of altered practice on patients, caregivers, professionals and in other community settings is required.

  • Terminal care
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Home Care
  • End of life care
  • Service evaluation
  • Hospice care

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Raw clinical data are held securely by St. Christopher’s Hospice. Please contact senior author for further information.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.