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The use of morphine

Useful Resources

  • Starting and using morphine

    Significant pain is a prevalent problem in palliative care and end of life care. Fear of morphine and opioids among doctors, patients and families contributes to poor pain management. This podcast addresses the myths about opioid use and provides guidance on their role in effective pain...

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  • Prescribing morphine: what are the challenges?

    Dr William (Willie) Molloy, Professor of Medicine and Chair of Gerontology & Rehabilitation at the School of Medicine, University College Cork talks about the concerns of doctors and patients about morphine and how it can be used safely and effectively in managing pain in people with a...

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Answers to concerns about using morphine

A belief that morphine hastens death
Morphine may be used for months or years and, correctly administered, is compatible with a normal lifestyle. When used properly, it does not hasten death

Concern about respiratory depression
Used properly, morphine should not cause respiratory depression, although care must be taken with patients who are at risk of respiratory depression for other reasons.

Concern that morphine doesn’t work
Morphine will be ineffective in controlling pain if it is incorrectly administered, it is used for morphine-insensitive pain, and psychosocial issues have not been addressed.

Concern that morphine causes unacceptable side effects
Side effects should not be severe; respiratory depression is uncommon, except in opioid naive patients commenced on parenteral therapy; constipation occurs inevitably and requires explanation and advice about diet and laxative therapy; and somnolence and nausea usually improve after several days.

Concerns about tolerance, physical dependence, psychological dependence
These concerns are never a reason to delay treatment with an opioid if it is clinically indicated and appropriate titration to manage pain minimizes these concerns.

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