Medication Management - Managing Risk

Medication Management

This section aims to support health professionals and care staff working in residential aged care to navigate medication management for people in the palliative phase1 and to identify and manage associated risks.

A factsheet has been developed for residents, their families and friends.

Key messages

  • The person (and where relevant their family and substitute decision-maker) needs to be equipped to make informed decisions about medication and treatment options.
  • The person’s preferences should be paramount. They can choose to refuse medication or treatment.
  • Medication needs, goals and preferences should be regularly assessed as they will change throughout the palliative phase.
  • People may deteriorate quickly in their final stage of life. Being prepared for rapid changes in symptoms will ensure effective medication management.
  • Common practices in palliative care medication management include:
    • reviewing and rationalising medications (deprescribing)
    • anticipatory prescribing to reduce suffering
    • withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, including futile or non-beneficial treatment
    • providing effective pain and symptom management.
  • Quality of life should be the primary goal when the person is in the palliative phase. People should die in a way that is as free from pain and suffering as possible.
  • Good communication with the person’s family and friends (where there is consent to share information) about medication management will support better end of life outcomes.

Page updated 01 February 2024