Mastodon Hospice & Palliative Care Formulary USA 2nd edition ~ Pallimed

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hospice & Palliative Care Formulary USA 2nd edition

We don't typically endorse products, webinars, conferences, job listings or much of anything else here at Pallimed, but when we do know about a resource that can impact your everyday palliative care work we want you to know about it.

Such is the case with the Hospice and Palliative Care Formulary USA ($75/$65 for AAHPM members) now being published in the 2nd edition from the founders of, Robert Twycross and Andrew Wilcox.  I wanted to write in more detail about why I access this book more often than any other palliative care book since I just ordered 6 of them for the teams I work with.

The first edition was printed in 2006 and my copy is dog-eared from carrying it around, showing it to hospice team members, lending out to fellows, residents, nurse case managers, copying a page for a pharmacist, referencing it for numerous presentations, etc.

Any other medication reference book (nursing or medical) has so many warnings/misinformation about the medications we commonly prescribe and administer in palliative care settings that general pharmaceutical reference books are essentially useless.  I often find nurses and physician trainees who read some of those freebie/cheap Nursing/Medical Drug Guides begin to contradict basic palliative care understanding.

For some poor examples from referencing other drug guides...

"We can't give more than 5mg of morphine...the book says she might have respiratory depression."
"Octreotide? I don't see anything about small bowel obstruction but it does treat a VIPoma."
"Constipation? How about we try more fiber?"

Here is why I find HPCF-USA so useful:
  • Detailed palliative care oriented medication information
  • Extremely well referenced drug monographs - Awesome for talks
  • FDA Approved indications clearly listed as well as likely palliative care uses
  • Cost information (in actual dollars not some crappy $-$$$$ scale)
  • Candid discussion about alternate route dosing/administration for many medications
  • Detailed pharmacologic information in tables to compare different meds within a class
  • A treatment monograph on 'Oxygen'  - When was the last time you read 4 detailed pages about the ins and outs of oxygen therapy? Wonderful!
  • Monographs on related but not primary palliative care meds - A whole section on antifibrinolytic drugs! Bronchodilators! Diabetes meds! Potassium! Magnesium!  You get the point.
  • Super helpful chapters covering meds in a meta-approach - Opioids and Fitness to Drive; Continuous Subcutaneous Infusions; Drugs Administered via Enteral Tubes
  • Designed for use in the USA (as opposed to the UK version with UK only meds like diamorphine)

Here are the things I wish were included/changed/fixed:
  • Better binding - it seems to be fragile after a lot of use, and my book gets used
  • Not much info on fentanyl IV compared to transdermal and buccal routes
  • The 2nd edition cover is a little boring compared to the Red, White and Poppy motif on the 1st edition.
If you are an AAHPM member you can get a 20% discount via the AAHPM website.  Also you could access it online via but I find the book very useful and a rapid access to have at my desk.  And now with the extra copies I purchased it will be at almost all of my clinical sites.

Do you use HPCF-USA?  Tell me what you like best about it.

Disclaimer: No kickbacks given to any Pallimed author because of this post.  We did give away a HPCF-USA free edition back in 2007 for our winter contest.  And it was pretty cool when I met Robert Twycross in Austin and he recognized my name from Pallimed and told me he was a big fan of Pallimed.  But that is not why I wrote this.  Obviously I think this is a super awesome book.

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