The nurse is caring for a client with cancer who is exhibiting signs and symptoms that death is near. The client’s daughter says that she does not want her mother to receive morphine because it will hasten her death. What response by the nurse is most appropriate?

  • “We always give morphine to clients at the end-of-life stage.”
  • “We can give oxygen instead of morphine to help with breathing and distress.”
  • “Morphine will reduce anxiety and reduce the sensation of air hunger in your mother.”
  • “We will wait until the very end to give the morphine and use nonpharmacologic measures instead.”
Number 3 is correct.
Option 1 is a nontherapeutic response and devalues the client’s dignity. Oxygen therapy for dyspnea in clients near death has not been established as a standard of care for all clients. Morphine and other opioids are the standard treatment and should be given early in the course of dyspnea. Nonpharmacologic interventions may be used concurrently with medication to enhance comfort but should not substitute for pharmacological treatment.