Palliative Sedation Helps Relieve Symptoms That Cannot Be Reversed With Regular Treatment. Within palliative care, those that help patients with serious diseases to prevent or treat the symptoms of the disease or treatment, is palliative sedation , which consists of alleviating the avoidable suffering of a patient who has refractory symptoms , that cannot be canceled with the usual treatment.
Therefore, the objective of palliative sedation is to achieve the best condition and maximum comfort for the patient, not only physically speaking, but also psychologically and spiritually , as indicated by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC).
It is important to know that whenever sedation is administered, the situation and refractory symptoms suffered by the patient must be diagnosed and recorded, taking into account the needs of the patient and their family members.
Likewise, this relief of physical and / or psychological suffering that cannot be achieved with other measures, requires the explicit, implicit or delegated consent of the patient for its application.
Differences between palliative sedation and sedation in agony
There are two types of sedation: palliative and sedation in agony. Although both are part of palliative care, they should not be confused, since they differ, above all, in the intensity of care.
On the one hand, palliative sedation is the administration of drugs, in the minimum doses and combinations to reduce the consciousness of the patient suffering from an advanced or end-stage disease, in order to alleviate refractory symptoms.
However, sedation in agony or terminal sedation consists of the application of drugs that seek a profound and predictably irreversible decrease in consciousness in a patient whose death is expected to be very near, that is, when he is in the agony phase, such and as indicated in a scientific article published in SciELO, of the Carlos III Health Institute.
Therefore, with this sedation in agony, it is intended to avoid the suffering of the patient in the last moments of his life, achieving a comfortable death, both in the hospital or at home. Hospice care is offered only when the person is expected to live 6 months or less , according to MedlinePlus .
In this way, palliative care can begin at the time of diagnosis and at the same time as treatment, while care for terminal patients is already given when treatment for the disease is suspended, when there is evidence that the person is not going. to survive.
How long can a sedated person survive?
First of all, you have to know that sedation does not cause the death of a person , but that the cause of death will be the disease itself. However, when terminal sedation is applied, it is because specialist doctors already know that there is no probability that the patient will survive.
There are many factors that affect the time a patient remains sedated before dying, such as the stage of the disease they are in or their physical state at the time of sedation. This can cause a person’s survival to vary from a few hours, to several days, or even weeks.
In fact, from the AECC, they indicate that neither palliative sedation nor sedation in agony are disguised forms of euthanasia , since sedation aims to alleviate the suffering of the patient without accelerating death, while euthanasia seeks the anticipated death of the patient. deliberately applying drugs at lethal doses.
According to data from the aforementioned study, from 16% to 52% of cancer patients treated in specialized units, die under the effects of sedation. Once the sedation was started, in the case of terminal patients, the mean survival was about 2 and a half days, varying between 1.3 days and almost 4 days.