Recommendation ID

Anticipatory prescribing:- What is the clinical and cost effectiveness of anticipatory prescribing for patients dying in their usual place of residence, on patient and carer reported symptoms at end of life?

Any explanatory notes
(if applicable)

Why this is important:- Anticipatory prescribing can provide access to essential medicines for symptom control at the end of life. Current best practice when it is recognised that someone is entering the final days of life recommends that medicines to manage pain, breathlessness, nausea and vomiting, and agitation are prescribed with authorisation for administration if clinically indicated when it is recognised that someone is entering the final days of life. Although their use is relatively widespread, there remains a need to investigate the clinical and cost effectiveness of this approach. Studies undertaken to date have been small-scale audit-type projects evaluating the use of anticipatory prescriptions and qualitative studies exploring the barriers to uptake.
Uncertainty remains as to the impact of anticipatory prescribing on outcomes such as preferred place of death and symptom control, and also uncertainty as to what should be prescribed.
A cluster randomised controlled trial (randomised by GP practice) is proposed to compare interventions of anticipatory prescribing ('just in case' boxes) with a generic list of medicines or anticipatory prescribing individualised to the patient's expected symptoms, compared with reactive prescribing at the bedside after symptoms have occurred. Outcomes of interest include patient and carer symptom ratings, patient-rated quality of life and healthcare use.

Source guidance details

Comes from guidance
Care of dying adults in the last days of life
Date issued
December 2015

Other details

Is this a recommendation for the use of a technology only in the context of research? No  
Is it a recommendation that suggests collection of data or the establishment of a register?   No  
Last Reviewed 31/12/2015