Anticipatory prescribing in community end-of-life care in the UK and Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic: online survey
BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care
BackgroundAnticipatory prescribing (AP) of injectable medications in advance of clinical need is established practice in community end-of-life care. Changes to prescribing guidelines and practice have been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic.Aims and objectivesTo investigate UK and Ireland clinicians' experiences concerning changes in AP during the COVID-19 pandemic and their recommendations for change.MethodsOnline survey of participants at previous AP national workshops, members of the
... members of the Association for Palliative Medicine of Great Britain and Ireland and other professional organisations, with snowball sampling.ResultsTwo hundred and sixty-one replies were received between 9 and 19 April 2020 from clinicians in community, hospice and hospital settings across all areas of the UK and Ireland. Changes to AP local guidance and practice were reported: route of administration (47%), drugs prescribed (38%), total quantities prescribed (35%), doses and ranges (29%). Concerns over shortages of nurses and doctors to administer subcutaneous injections led 37% to consider drug administration by family or social caregivers, often by buccal, sublingual and transdermal routes. Clinical contact and patient assessment were more often remote via telephone or video (63%). Recommendations for regulatory changes to permit drug repurposing and easier community access were made.ConclusionsThe challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for UK community palliative care has stimulated rapid innovation in AP. The extent to which these are implemented and their clinical efficacy need further examination.