Pain Management and Symptom Control

The control of pain and other adverse symptoms is central to Connecticut Hospice’s mission  to optimize the quality of life for our patients and their families. Our physicians and advanced practice registered nurses provide expert level management of pain, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and other symptoms with the goal of making patients symptom free, while maintaining as much alertness and function as possible. .

This professional expertise, combined with access to rapid medication and dose adjustment in our 53 bed Branford hospital make possible control of pain rarely achieved in other health care settings. Our physicians, nurses, and pharmacists work collaboratively to evaluate and rapidly control pain and other symptoms, both inpatient and at home. Artists, social workers, clergy, nurses, and professional and lay volunteers help our patients and their families work through emotional, existential, and spiritual pain. The team reviews patients’  progress regularly, with consultants (e.g., psychiatry) complementing the medical and nursing staffs.


Before admitting anyone to the Hospice program, our team confers with each patient’s primary physician. Those who elect our home hospice program may keep their primary physician, or may choose a hospice physician for their care. For those admitted to our Branford hospital, care is assumed by a hospice and palliative care physician or advanced practice nurse practitioner, and primary physicians are invited to collaborate with our inpatient staff. Whatever the case, aggressive symptom management remains a primary goal, and hospice physicians are available 24/7 for symptom management..

Our care plans, created by experts and combined with immediate access to specialist level practitioners, allow our nurses to rapidly respond to the evolving challenges of advanced illness. Some symptoms are relieved by simple measures such as repositioning, massage, relaxation techniques, and distraction through arts and other activities. Other require potent medications used in the inpatient setting by experts in the field. Connecticut Hospice provides both.

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In treating the patient, the Hospice physician and pharmacist are guided by repeated assessments, with adjustments in medications, and times of administration so that the patient will be as comfortable as possible.

An important principle in The Connecticut Hospice approach is that drug doses are carefully adjusted to each patient’s physical make-up. This assures pain relief without loss of alertness. The Connecticut Hospice goal is to control symptoms while maintaining optimum functioning.

At Hospice, the patient’s needs dictate the medication level. Medications are administered on a regular schedule, to eliminate not only pain, but also the fear of pain. Ease of administering is a key consideration also.

When a medication is not available commercially in the exact dosage needed, the Connecticut Hospice pharmacist is able to meet individual needs. An active participant in patient care, the pharmacist attends morning rounds and weekly team meetings, serving as a source for current drug information and a consultant for changing drug regiments. Both the Hospice pharmacist and physician strive to educate others on the goals and parameters of hospice caregiving. Advances in symptom control present diversified and constant challenges. As Hospice physicians and pharmacists discharge their demanding duties, they are in the forefront of palliative care. Hospice remains identified by its excellence of symptom management and support. Patients are spared injections whenever possible to make their lives more comfortable. Over 90 percent of the medications at Hospice are taken orally. Because of this, it is often possible for patients to be cared for at home.