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Athens Regional Medical Center Boosts Patient Safety with Expanded Use of Capnography

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 latest recommendations and underscores our dedication to patient safety," said Carrie Capps, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. 

The clinical staff selected this infusion system to use at ARMC.  The staff  was trained for two weeks prior to the implementation of its use at the end of March this year.  The Alaric IV system has a truly interdisciplinary implementation and oversight to it, as Pharmacy is very involved with the infusion pumps now as compared to any IV and PCA pumps used in the past.

Athens Regional Medical Center chose capnography equipment from Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products and recognized innovator in patient monitoring and respiratory care devices.

"We commend Athens Regional Medical Center for being part of a growing number of facilities across the country committed to patient safety through the use of capnography," said Robert J. White, President, Respiratory & Monitoring Solutions, Covidien. "Its decision to monitor patients at risk of respiratory depression with capnography and oximetry ensures patients have a level of protection when using state-of-the-art pain management systems."

About Athens Regional Health System

Athens Regional Health System is one of Northeast Georgia's largest health care systems. Comprised of an acute care facility with 350-plus beds, four urgent care centers, a quality network of physicians and specialists, a health maintenance organization and a home health agency, Athens Regional is a progressive health care system committed to excellence and dedicated to improving the health, wellness and quality of life of our communities.

The cornerstone of the Health System is Athens Regional Medical Center. Athens Regional is a regional referral center, offering services such as maternal/child, advanced imaging, minimally invasive surgeries, an American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer approved oncology department and a nationally recognized cardiovascular program. Athens Regional was recently recognized as a TOP 100 hospital in the nation by Women Certified; among the best hospitals in the region for gastroenterology and pulmonary procedures according to US News and World Report; and named the 2011 Large Hospital of the Year for the State of Georgia by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals. Athens Regional is the only locally owned and governed hospital in the region it serves. For more information, visit

SOURCE Athens Regional Medical Center
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