At some point, all doctors will need to provide care for a dying patient. It is, therefore, necessary for doctors to possess some understanding of how to manage distressing symptoms that may accompany the terminal phase.
- An understanding of the expected death trajectory allows advanced planning for end of life care.
- Patients with a terminal illness may develop new and sometimes distressing symptoms during the final stages of life. These symptoms include breathlessness, noisy respirations, agitation and pain.
- All symptoms should be addressed, but the investigations need to be tailored to the patient’s life expectancy.
- GPs are pivotal to the provision of end of life care of patients in the home and aged care facilities.
- Good end of life care also requires death preparation and family support, including bereavement support.