When entering hospice care, you or your loved one may be provided with a special kit, called an Emergency Kit or E-kit. The emergency kit contains medications that are used to control sudden, unexpected symptoms, such as nausea, severe pain or seizures. The contents of the kit are customized for your specific health needs, and are chosen to prevent and quickly treat the symptoms that occur with a terminal illness.
Understanding E Kits
Many hospices provide an emergency kit to keep on-hand at all times, whether you or your loved one are receiving care at home or in the hospice. The kit contains small amounts of different types of prescription medication. The medications are administered on an as-needed basis until other treatments to control the symptoms can begin. One of the main benefits of opting for an E-kit is the ability to quickly obtain and use needed prescription medications without consulting a doctor or pharmacy first.
Typically, it is necessary to consult a physician for a prescription. Then, you must wait for the medication at a pharmacy. This process can be delayed when symptoms occur at night, during holidays, on weekends or atany times when the doctor isn’t available or the pharmacy isn’t open for business.
Benefits of an Emergency Kit
The availability of an emergency kit eliminates the wait period for much-needed medications. While the medications in the kit can vary based on the you or your loved one’s specific health, there are some types of medication that are commonly included in the kit. Sudden, severe symptoms that are typically treated by the medications in the kit include the following:
Morphine or other drugs, such as Roxanol, are often included in emergency kits for those with a terminal illness. These medications are used to treat sudden or severe pain when other options aren’t available. Medications to relieve anxiety and agitation, such as Valium, Ativan or other benzodiazepines, are also typically included in an E-kit. Valium is also included to treat seizures. Increased secretions that cause drooling or noisy respiration, which are often related to accumulating secretions in the throat, are treated by medications such as Levsin or Atropine.
A small amount of these medications are included in the E-kit to help you or your loved one rest comfortably. Nausea and vomiting medications may be in suppository or tablet form. Medications like Compazine, Phenergan and Zofran are included in the emergency kit to control sudden or severe nausea and vomiting.
Being Proactive is Never Wrong
While we hope that you or your loved one never have to rely on an emergency kit, the kit is an invaluable resource if you or your loved one suddenly experiences severe symptoms that require prescription medication. Much like a first aid kit is used to treat minor injuries, the E-kit provides immediate relief from some of the most common symptoms experienced by those with a terminal illness.
Proactive care allows us to plan for, and provide medication for, the expected symptoms experienced by those with a terminal illness. Unexpected, sudden symptoms are a possibility, however, even when following the most proactive care plan. The hospice nurse can dispense the medications in the emergency kit at a moment’s notice, ensuring you or your loved one are comfortable until other treatments to control the symptoms begin.