Opioid Management in the Dying Child With Addiction
The dramatic increases of opioid use and misuse in the past 15 years have resulted in a focus on the responsible and judicious use of opioids. In this Ethics Rounds, the commentators analyze the case of a 16-year-old girl with lymphoma and opioid misuse whose caregiver may have diverted her opioids. She is now at the end of life and prefers to die at home. The commentators, oncologists, palliative care providers, ethicists, and a medical student agree that supporting the patient's goals and practicing good opioid stewardship are not incompatible. They identify additional information that would be required to analyze the case more fully such as the nature of the evidence for misuse and diversion and whether bias inadvertently contributed to these concerns. They agree that multimodal analgesia, including but not limited to opioids, is important. Safeguards could include a contract, directly observed therapy, and/or urine drug screens. Supervision or removal of a caregiver diverting medication or admission of the patient misusing medications would be alternatives if the initial plan was unsuccessful. Such patient-centered care requires well-developed substance misuse treatment, pain management, and home hospice that are adequately reimbursed.
Johnson, Liza-Marie; Kaye, Erica C.; Sawyer, Kimberly; Brenner, Alex M.; Friedrichsdorf, Stefan J.; Rosenberg, Abby R.; and Antommaria, Armand H., "Opioid Management in the Dying Child With Addiction" (2021). Loewenberg College of Nursing Faculty Publications. 112.