Developing policy, standard orders, and quality-assurance monitoring for palliative sedation therapy

Ghafoor, Virginia L.; Silus, Lauren S.
March 2011
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;3/15/2011, Vol. 68 Issue 6, p523
Academic Journal
Purpose. The development of a policy, evidence-based standard orders, and monitoring for palliative sedation therapy (PST) is described. Summary. Concerns regarding PST at the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC) arose and needed to be addressed in a formal process. A multidisciplinary group consisting of palliative care physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and clinical pharmacy specialists reached consensus on the practice model and medications to be used for PST. Major elements of the plan included the development and implementation of an institutional policy for palliative sedation; standard orders for patient care, sedation, and monitoring; education for staff, patients, and patients' family members; and quality-assurance monitoring. A literature review was performed to identify research and guidelines defining the practice of PST. Policy content includes the use of a standard order set linking patient care, medication administration, the monitoring of sedation, and symptom management. Approval of the policy involved several UMMC committees. An evaluation matrix was used to determine critical areas for PST monitoring and to guide development of a form to monitor quality. A retrospective chart audit using the quality-assurance monitoring form assessed baseline sedation medication and patient outcomes. Assessment of compliance began in the fall of 2008, after the policy and standard orders were approved by the UMMC medical executive committee. In 2008, two cases of PST were monitored using the standardized form. PST cases will be continually monitored and analyzed. Conclusion. Development of policy, standard orders, and quality-assurance monitoring for PST required a formal multidisciplinary process. A process-improvement process is critical to defining institutional policy, educational goals, and outcome metrics for PST.


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