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end-of-life issues, palliative care, sedation, sedatives, suffering



  1. Bruce, Susan D. RN, BSN, OCN
  2. Hendrix, Cristina C. DNS, APRN-BC, GNP, FNP
  3. Gentry, Jennifer H. RN, MSN, ANP, APRN-BC, PCM


The goals for care at the end of life include relief of pain and suffering. Despite excellent palliative care, some patients continue to experience intolerable, unrelieved pain and suffering from refractory symptoms. Palliative sedation, although controversial, is an accepted option for relieving pain and suffering at the end of life and can spark a great deal of emotion and debate for all involved. Hospice and palliative care nurses play a critical role in symptom management at the end of life and need to have a basic understanding of the principles of palliative sedation. Nurses must continue to advocate for their patients and provide education to other members of the healthcare team who are less knowledgeable about palliative sedation. This article explores these principles and some of the challenges associated with providing palliative sedation.