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Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety Announces Four Essentials for Safety for Patients Receiving Opioids

CHICAGO, May 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS), an advocacy group of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, healthcare organizations and patient safety advocacy groups, recently released four essentials for patient safety.

These four essentials for patient safety were recently discussed on a webinar on reducing adverse drug events and harm associated with postoperative opioid pain management programs. Premier Safety Institute, an organization dedicated to coordinating safety-related activities among national organizations to help improve safety, hosted the webinar.

The four essentials help improve patient safety by making patients and their families a partner with their healthcare providers:1.

Ensure patients/families are provided information on proper use of the PCA pump, so they understand:  - Pump delivers a powerful narcotic  - No PCA by proxy2.

Make sure patients/families understand why they must be monitored for safety reasons:   - oximetry on finger   - capnography cannula on nose3.

Save yourself some trouble and educate patients and families about monitor readouts.4.

Why alarms sound and what to do when they do sound. Michael Wong , founder and executive director of PPAHS, explains, "Caregivers are encouraged to make patients and their families partners in patient safety. Taking a brief moment to explain these four essentials will improve patient safety."

As Cindy Abbiehl , who with her husband established A Promise to Amanda Foundation following the tragic death of their 18-year daughter who passed away in 2010 because she was not adequately monitored with EtCO2, said on the webinar

"Basically what we're looking at is the essentials for safety. Ensure patients and families are provided information on proper use of PCA [patient-controlled analgesia] pumps. A lot of people don't realize that these pumps do deliver a powerful narcotic. It tends to be an issue if the patient is administering it or if somebody else pushes the button for the patient."

Proper patient education about the devices with which they manage their pain is therefore essential to safe care. "That's why we need to make sure that patients and families understand why they must be monitored for safety reasons," Ms. Abbhiel continues. She explains that oximetry on the finger and a capnography cannula on the nose will prevent adverse drug events for patients using PCA pumps to manage pain.

Educating patients and families about how to interpret monitor readouts helps frontline staff monitor patients. "Brian and I both have discussed how we wished that we could have seen some warning sign. With capnography, it pretty much puts the warning sign on the machine and alerts the nurses without them having to come in."

For more on the webinar, please see


The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) is an advocacy group devoted to improving patient health and safety. PPAHS supporters include physicians, patients, individuals, and organizations.

PPAHS recently released a concise checklist that reminds caregivers of the essential steps needed to be taken to initiate Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) with a patient and to continue to assess that patient's use of PCA. For more information and to download the PCA safety checklist, please visit


SOURCE Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety
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