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Choosing a Hospice Agency? Consider Their Pharmacy Options

Hospice Relationships with Pharmacies Is Important

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Updated January 27, 2009

While not the most important factor in choosing a hospice agency, it is worth knowing which pharmacy they use and how close it is to you. It’s important to know how easy it will be to get medications when you need them.

I have two very different experiences with this. The large for-profit agency I used to work for used a large, nationwide pharmacy service that catered to hospice patients. The pharmacists were very knowledgeable about hospice patient’s unique needs and medications for symptom management which was a great resource for nurses. The medications had to be FedEx’d to patient’s home, however, so having a relationship with a local pharmacy was essential. The agency I worked for had a difficult time finding and maintaining these relationships, which made getting emergency medications quickly a real challenge.

The agency I work for now has a wonderful relationship with a local pharmacy which is also very knowledgeable about hospice patients and compounds medications on site to make it very easy to treat various symptoms. They are able to make almost any medication into a liquid or suppository form. They aren’t open nights or on Sundays, but a pharmacist will always meet a family member at the pharmacy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to fill emergency medication.

The point being: Regardless of whether the hospice agency uses a local pharmacy or a large nationwide one, you want to know that you’ll be able to get emergency medications quickly.

It’s also worth asking the hospice agency if they provide you with an emergency kit of medications. Many agencies provide kits with medication for pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, and nausea to keep in the home in case of emergency. This is done to hopefully prevent a scenario where your loved one is suffering and has to wait hours to get medication.

Next Question: Levels of Hospice Care

(To see all the considerations that are important when choosing a hospice, please read this article Tips for Choosing a Hospice)

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