Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2010 Mar;13(1):7-12.

Medications at the End of Life Care for Terminal Cancer Patients during Their Last Admission

  • 1Dongguk University-Seoul, Graduate School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. smdkdy@hanmail.net


To evaluate medications at the end of life care for terminal cancer patients during their last admission.
Medical records of terminal cancer patients during their last admission from July 2003 to April 2008 at a district academic hospital were evaluated. Patient's characteristics, therapeutic drug classification during their last admission and on the patient's day of death, and the administrated route and number of medications on the patient's day of death were analyzed.
Total 81 patients were included. The median patient age was 63 years. The median length of admission was 18 days (range: 1~101). 54% of the patients had more than one comorbidities. The most frequently prescribed drugs during the last admission were opioid analgesics (63%), followed by antibiotics (58%) and antacids (53%). On the day of death, common medications were antibiotics (59%), antacids (58%), and opioid analgesics (46%). Intravenous injection was given to 81% of the patients and intramuscular injection was given to 16% of the patients on the day of patient's death. Number of medications prescribed to patients was between 0 and 11 (median: 3) and 12% (10/81) of the patients took over 8 medications including intravenous and oral drugs on the day of death. 6% (5/81) of the patients took potentially futile medications, like multivitamin or statin until the day of death.
This study suggests that potentially futile medications and uncomfortable care were given to terminal cancer patients. Multicenter-based studies are necessary to diminish futile medications by essential medication at the end of life care for terminal cancer patients.


Neoplasms; Medication therapy management; Medical futility

MeSH Terms

Analgesics, Opioid
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
Injections, Intramuscular
Injections, Intravenous
Medical Futility
Medical Records
Medication Therapy Management
Terminal Care
Analgesics, Opioid
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
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