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Athens Regional Medical Center Boosts Patient Safety with Expanded Use of Capnography
Date:8/21/2013

ATHENS, Ga., Aug. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Athens Regional Medical Center recently strengthened patient safety measures by expanding its use of capnography to monitor patients using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) to regulate their pain after surgery.

PCA can provide an effective way to control pain by allowing patients to self-administer small doses of pain medication intravenously, but the technology poses unique risks because the opioid medications used can also suppress the patient's breathing. The Joint Commission, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices all recommend that hospitals take special precautions including monitoring patients with capnography and oximetry.

Specifically, capnography measures how effectively patients are breathing by measuring exhaled carbon dioxide and can alert medical caregivers when life-threatening respiratory depression occurs. Capnography provides the earliest indication of evolving respiratory compromise, which can lead to significant morbidity or even cardiopulmonary arrest if undetected. Oximetry monitors the patient's blood oxygen levels ensuring that the patient is receiving enough oxygen.

Athens Regional Medical Center is among the nation's leaders in the early implementation of capnography monitoring to protect patients using PCA. Long used in operating rooms to monitor patients under general anesthesia, hospitals are now deploying capnography after surgery, as well. Early indication of respiratory depression with capnography enables medical staff to intervene before serious adverse events happen.

"Athens Regional Medical Center is committed to providing the highest quality of care. Our widespread use of capnography to monitor a patient's breathing is in line with the late
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SOURCE Athens Regional Medical Center
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