Pharmacological symptom control measures for palliative care in the community

Tutorial presented by Dr Idris Baker, Consultant in palliative care.


Patients who need palliative symptom control benefit from pharmacological measures that are used routinely in the community. The symptoms of severe COVID-19 infection that may need to be addressed include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Other symptoms from other illnesses that the patient is already living with (e.g. pain, nausea and vomiting)

The palliative care guidance in the community includes a table (linked below) which outlines the pharmacological management of patients with severe COVID-19 in the community. It includes the common symptoms of severe COVID-19, a selection of familiar medications, routes of delivery and doses that have been found to be effective in severe COVID-19. The principles for effective symptom control include:

  • Urgency of administration, using injection or infusion instead of oral route
  • Use a combination of morphine and midazolam for breathlessness
  • Start using a syringe driver as early as possible
Mark as Understood


Palliative care guidance in the community – symptom control quick reference guide

© Institute of Clinical Science and Technology (ICST) 2020