Thursday, May 14, 2009

Making sense of medications near the end of life.

As in all things in life, the end of it should be tinged with a little common sense.
One of the silliest things I have do as a Palliative physician is to sift through the lists of medications that my patients are on and make the useless ones go away.
For instance, what sense does it make if you are suffering from cancer to take cholesterol lowering medications? Not only is it unnecessary, but they can interfere with chemotherapy and can certainly interfere with the enjoyment of life.
My advice to patients and their families who are in this situation, is to review the medication list with their physician and try to exclude anything that will not benefit them in the "here and now" and for comfort sake.
What good is the statistical chance of decreased stroke 25 years from now when the medications to do that make you miserable or worse, shorten your lifespan interfering with your chemo?
With medications such as the lipid lowering agents, daily aspirin therapy, and the like, once you achieve clinical remission or cure, then you can resume all those medications for long term preventative care.


  1. What a brilliant and sensitive blog to create! Thank you for your caring passion for what you do. In my life, it has been rare to find a doctor who retains the high level of humanity that you do. You're a wealth of information and a real gem, to boot!

  2. Thank you for your post. I think that my calling is to point out the common sense that medicine sadly lacks.
    More Contributors to come as well.
    Dr. Calves