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Sunday, April 20, 2014
When hospice comes in to make the patient comfortable what usually happens at this point? With carbon dioxide slowly building up to 63 over time, does the patient usually go into a coma before death? What is the average length of time that a person lives when this process starts? Thank You.
Hospice is usually started when it is estimated that a patient has less than 6 months to live, although the actual time of life left can be much shorter than 6 months in many patients.
As carbon dioxide builds up, patients tend to get sleepier and sleepier and eventually do go into a coma. The duration of time that this takes is highly variable and can be days or weeks.The role of hospice is to find ways of maintaining patient comfort and this can include oxygen, medications to relieve anxiety (such as lorazapam or diazepam), and medications to relieve pain or shortness of breath (such as morphine or hydromorphone).
James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University