Medications are an important part of the care of the hospice patient. A notebook is helpful to write down when medications are to be given and their effect.

Other tips for handling medications safely include:

  • Keep a current list of all medications, including over-the-counter medications. Take the list with you on all physician and hospital visits.
  • Keep the list with the medications in a box in a safe place. (A plastic box or shoebox is a good size container).
  • Keep medications in their original container.
  • Keep all suppositories (medications to be given by rectum) in the refrigerator.
  • Keep Tylenol or generic brand in pill or suppository form available for unexpected fever at night.
  • Keep your thermometer in your medication box.
  • Keep refills updated. Your physician may not be on call if you run out after hours.
  • Keep old or discontinued medications in a separate container. Do not destroy them as they may be needed at a later time.

Symptoms can be controlled more easily if treated early. Write on each medicine bottle what it is FOR if the pharmacist has not already done so.


Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.
  • Mixing prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in impermeable, non descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, will further ensure that drugs are not diverted.
  • Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so.
  • Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Some communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid-waste programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal.
  • If swallowing is difficult, tell your nurse. The medication can be changed. Liquids, patches or suppositories may be ordered.


  • Store medications in the bathroom where humidity is high.
  • Crush or break medications without discussing with the hospice nurse. Many medications are coated for delayed action, and crushing will destroy that action.