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Ochsner Baton Rouge Boosts Patient Safety with Expanded Use of Capnography

BATON ROUGE, La., May 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ochsner Medical Center –Baton Rouge recently expanded its use of capnography to monitor patients using pain medication through patient controlled analgesia (PCA) to strengthen patient safety measures. Capnography evaluates how effectively patients are breathing by measuring exhaled carbon dioxide, alerting medical caregivers when life-threatening respiratory depression occurs.

Respiratory depression is abnormally slow and shallow respiration, resulting in an increased level of carbon dioxide in the blood.  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.

Patient controlled analgesia can provide an effective way to control pain by allowing patients to self-administer small doses of pain medicine through intravenous (IV) therapy, but the technology poses unique risks because the opioid medications have the potential to suppress the patient's breathing -- which can be life threatening.

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 with patients using PCA  including monitoring patients with capnography and oximetry.

"Continuous electronic monitoring of patients provides valuable information about their condition," explains Dawn Pevey Mauk MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Officer "The more you know about a patient's condition, the better we are equipped to ensuring their safety and providing optimal patient care."

Ochsner 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. Early indication of respiratory depression with capnography enables medical staff to intervene before serious adverse events happen.

"Ochsner Health System is committed to providing quality care for our patients," said Eric McMillen , CEO, Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge. "Our widespread use of capnography to monitor a patient's breathing reinforces our dedication to patient safety."

Ochsner - Baton Rouge chose capnography equipment from Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products and recognized innovator in patient monitoring and respiratory care devices.

"We commend Ochsner 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. "Their 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."

Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana's largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system with eight hospitals and 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 17 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a "Best Hospital" across 11 specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 13,000 employees, over 850 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

SOURCE Ochsner Medical Center
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