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Wesley Medical Center Nominated for Best of 2013 Respiratory Care: Improves Patient Safety By Reducing Opioid-Related Adverse Events to Zero

CHICAGO, July 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) has nominated the respiratory care department of Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas, for RT Magazine's "Best of Care" award.

"Wesley Medical Center brought the percentage of moderate and severe patient-controlled analgesia adverse events progressing to code blue from 13 percent to zero percent," says Michael Wong, executive director of PPAHS. "Among the Medicare patients in US hospitals, failure to rescue accounts for 113 events for every 1,000 at-risk patient admissions. Moreover, fifty percent of code blue events involve patients receiving opioid analgesia. For dramatically reducing events progressing to code blue, Wesley should be applauded for improving patient safety."

RT Magazine is looking for nominations for best RT department by July 12, 2013. Please click here.

Mark Wencel, MD, and Debra Fox, MBA, RRT-NPS, presented the Wesley Medical Center study as an abstract and poster presentation in 2011 for the American Association for Respiratory Care.

Because of the success of the study, Ms. Fox reported on the California Hospital Engagement Network webinar in May 2013 that Wesley is expanding the initial program to other medical units at their hospital.

"Our latest results show the sustained reduction in our severe ADRs," explained Ms. Fox. "The hospital's safe medication practice committee is now considering expanding ETCO2 monitoring to all patients receiving intermittent IV opioids, not just those that score as a high risk."

The study by researchers at Wesley Medical Center suggests exhaled CO2 monitoring of patients using patient-controlled analgesia pumps could help reduce the occurrence of this adverse event. Specifically, Ms. Fox and Dr. Wencel examined respiratory depression rates with the use of PCA pumps and intermittent IV opioids for pain management.Respiratory depression is an identified patient safety issue.

As The Joint Commission recently stated in its Sentinel Event Alert, "Safe Use of Opioids in Hospitals": "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."

As Dr. Wencel concluded about the study, "The percentage of moderate and severe ADRs progressing to code blue fell from just under 13 percent to just over 4 percent. Through the first half of 2011, that progression rate sat at 0 percent."

Wesley Medical Center won the ISMP Cheers Award in 2012 in recognition for its efforts to improve PCA outcomes.


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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