Hospice emergency kit for veterans: A pilot study

Academic Article


  • Background: Although the provision of hospice emergency kits (HEKs) by home hospice agencies is thought to be widespread, little is known about their use, safety, and impact. Objective: This study evaluated HEK medication utilization, safety, diversion, and perceived impact. Design: Evaluation consisted of a retrospective patient chart abstraction and an anonymous questionnaire for home hospice nurses. Setting/subjects: Chart abstraction examined the computerized records of deceased veterans discharged to home hospice in 2009 (N=76). The questionnaire was completed by 78 home hospice nurses from 16 agencies. Measurements: Chart abstraction examined HEK medication utilization, symptoms addressed, and safety/diversion concerns. The hospice nurse questionnaire assessed their perceptions of HEK utilization, safety, and impact, including efficacy for preventing emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Results: Of patients who received an HEK, its use was documented in 50% of cases. The most used items were morphine concentrate and antibiotics. Nurses estimated that the HEK was utilized in 66.3% of cases, with the most frequently used medications being morphine, lorazepam, promethazine, and haloperidol. Fifty-nine percent of nurses felt HEKs were helpful 100% of the time (mean=84.2%; median=100% of the time) and 93% felt that an emergency department (ED) visit or hospitalization was avoided by having the kit in the home. Eighteen percent believed that medications in the kit are used by someone other than the patient. Conclusions: HEKs have value as a means to alleviate many symptoms that emerge predictably in home hospice patients and may avoid unwanted hospitalizations and ED visits. © Copyright 2013, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Leigh AE; Burgio KL; Williams BR; Kvale E; Bailey FA
  • Start Page

  • 356
  • End Page

  • 361
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 4