Bite-sized learning - check before prescribing

Opioids can relieve distressing symptoms. It's important to make a number of checks before prescribing them and other drugs as outlined in this week's learning.

Before any opioids are prescribed (or any other drug), the prescriber should consider:

1. The patient’s medication history (including any regular opioids they may be taking at home)

2. Other factors that might alter the benefits and harms of treatment, including allergies, renal function, age, weight and potential side effects

3. Consider the appropriate route for medication. For example:

                     * Is the patient Nil By Mouth?

                     * Are they vomiting or too drowsy to swallow safely where an oral route may be compromised?

                     * Alternatives routes i.e subcutaneous, intramuscular or transdermal need to be considered

4. Select effective, safe, and cost-effective medicines individualised for the patient as per Trust/ National guidelines

5. Prescribe within the limitations of your knowledge, skills, and experience and if in doubt ask a senior/ specialist or pharmacist for advice