Although most symptoms at the end of life can be treated well, some patients experience continuous pain, agitation, delirium, and restlessness that cannot be adequately treated. For these people, palliative sedation can often be the only palliative care option to relieve their suffering.
Also referred to ‘terminal sedation,’ palliative sedation is the continuous administration of medication to relieve severe, intractable symptoms.
One should ask questions such as:
“If my pain/breathlessness become unbearable, will your hospice be willing to sedate me to unconsciousness, if that is what is required to manage my pain/breathlessness?”
Eligibility for palliative sedation is determined by the provider, not the patient. Palliative sedation is not provided for existential suffering such as poor quality of life, or loss of dignity.