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Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety: Addressing The Joint Commission Opioid Warnings Can Reduce Respiratory Depression and Improve Patient Safety in Hospitals
Date:11/20/2012

CHICAGO, Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety says recent research demonstrates how hospitals can address The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert, "Safe Use of Opioids in Hospitals."

Respiratory depression is an identified patient safety issue. As The Joint Commission recently stated:

"While opioid use is generally safe for most patients, opioid analgesics may be associated with adverse effects, the most serious effect being respiratory depression, which is generally preceded by sedation."

Respiratory depression has been associated with the use of opioid analgesics. However, a recent study by researchers at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan., suggests exhaled CO2 monitoring of patients using patient-controlled analgesia pumps could help reduce the occurrence of this adverse event. Specifically, Debra Fox, MBA, RRT-NPS, and Mark Wencel, MD, examined respiratory depression rates with the use of PCA pumps and intermittent IV opioids for pain management.

The Joint Commission, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices recommend the monitoring of exhaled CO2 to detect respiratory depression to increase patient safety with pain medication administration. Consequently, the Wesley Medical Center converted to a "smart" infusion pump system with integrated capnography. These smart pumps monitored levels of exhaled CO2, thereby detecting a potential adverse drug event and respiratory depression early on.

"Opioid analgesia may result in unrecognized or at least unattributed deaths. The risk of patient deaths from PCA prompted Wesley to invest in 'smart' pump technology with integrated capnography.  We are strong advocates for end tidal CO2 measurement with capnography over the sometime
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SOURCE Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety
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