Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Was the Death of Erik Nelson of Preventable?

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

According to the Bozeman Daily Chroncle’s article, “Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Bozeman surgeon,” Erik Nelson underwent surgery to correct his chronic nasal obstruction and severe obstructive sleep apnea. Discharged the day after surgery, Mr, Nelson was sent home with a prescription of Oxycodone to manage his pain. Oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid, which is prescribed for moderate to severe pain.

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Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Continuous Monitoring Could Have Saved Lorrie McComb’s Life

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

“Had Lorrie McComb been monitored with pulse oximetry and capnography, she might be alive today” – this was my first thought when I recently read the article, “Widower gets $3.2 million in hospital suit against WellStar”.

A jury awarded Lorrie McComb’s husband more than $3.2 million in a malpractice suit brought against Kennestone Hospital and WellStar Medical Group for the 2012 death of his wife, Lorrie McComb.

The ruling and the reward of more than $3.2 million should be a reminder to all hospital executives and risk managers of the perils of not following adequate patient monitoring practices.

To read the complete article on TheDoctorWeighsIn, please click here.


Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

We Need to Focus on Patient Safety to Battle the Opioid Epidemic: 5 Key Steps to a More Balanced Approach

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Opioid-related deaths are a leading national and community concern. Unfortunately, reports of opioid-related deaths occur with astonishing regularity in our daily news feeds.

Though much of the attention on opioid-related harm is centered on the improper use of opioids in the community (misuse, diversion, etc), the truth is that opioid harm exists across a continuum of care. The safe use of opioids begins with the safe use of opioid analgesics in the hospital setting and the prescription of opioids upon discharge of the patient from a healthcare facility. We must first and foremost make sure that opioids provided to patients are done so in a safe manner both during administration and upon discharge. Read More

Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Capnography Monitoring of Five-Year Old Amber Athwal May Have Prevented Her Brain Damage

The recent case of five-year old Amber Athwal is a reminder yet again of the dangers of dental sedation without the availability of adequate personnel and patient monitoring. Unfortunately, what happened to Amber is not an isolated event, as other pediatric deaths have recently occurred, tragically with 6 year-old Caleb Sears, as well as 9-year old Solomon Womack, 17-Year Old Mariah Edwards, and 17-year-old girl, Sydney Gallegher. Read More

Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

What doctors can do to prevent medical errors during transfer of care

Co-authored by Stephen Routledge, MPH, Patient Safety Improvement Lead, Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Michael Wong, JD, Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety

How can clinicians keep patients safe during critical transition of care? As patients’ conditions change, they move to different hospital floors, care teams and, eventually, leave the hospital. During those moments, patients are at high risk of fragmented care, adverse drug events and medication errors.

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Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Remembering Amanda: 7 Years After An Opioid-Related Death

This weekend marked the 7th anniversary of Amanda Abbiehl’s tragic death. Her story continues to remind us of the need for continuous electronic monitoring for all patients receiving opioids.

Amanda was 18-years-old when she was admitted to hospital for a severe case of strep throat. To help her manage the pain, she was placed on a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pump. The next morning, she was found unresponsive and died. Though PCA pumps are designed to deliver an exact dosage of opioid – in Amanda’s case, hydromorphone – getting the ‘right’ dosage is not a simple task. Too high a dosage can lead to respiratory depression, sometimes in minutes. Read More

Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Practices & Tips, Respiratory Compromise

The Preventable Death of Paul Buisson: 3 Lessons on Preventing Opioid Death

The following is an excerpt of an article first published on The Doctor Weighs In on June 28, 2017. To read the full article, please click here.

In 2005, Paul Buisson, a celebrated Quebec animator and cameraman died as a result of opioid-related respiratory depression. What lessons can we learn more than a decade later? Read More

Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Practices & Tips, Respiratory Compromise

The Vital Role Nurses Play in Patient Care

Written by Michael Wong, JD, Founder & Executive Director of PPAHS

As founder and executive director PPAHS, when I speak at conferences about the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety support for continuous electronic monitoring of patients receiving opioids, I am often asked two questions:

  • Is PPAHS suggesting or recommending that technology replace nurses?
  • Why has continuous monitoring been so slow to be adopted by hospitals?

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Opioid Safety, Position Statement, Respiratory Compromise

Patients Receiving Opioids Must Be Monitored With Continuous Electronic Monitoring

The following is a position statement published by PPAHS. If you would prefer to view our statement as a PDF, please click here.

Much of the public attention has been focused on the harm caused by prescription use and abuse of opioids. However, there is another facet that must be focused on: opioid-induced respiratory depression in clinical settings. This includes patients undergoing moderate and conscious sedation, or recovering from procedures and managing pain using a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pump, particularly those during the postoperative period. Read More

Hospital Acquired Conditions, Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Anesthesiology Standards Shouldn’t be Different in Hospital and Outpatient Settings

Written by Lynn Razzano RN, MSN, ONC-C (Clinical Nurse Consultant, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety).

When preventable medical errors occur, one of the very first questions asked by patients, families, the legal system, the press, and the public is: “were appropriate care standards met?”. As a professional Registered Nurse, I look at this question from a quality and patient safety perspective to ask what could have been done differently? What are the best practice medical standards, and why are they not applied across the US health care systems? How applicable should the medical standard of care be? And how do we, as clinicians and patient advocates, define the best practice standard of care?

The reality is that the definition of best practice and standard of care differs between acute care hospital settings and outpatient surgery centers. And, even then, the standard of care being applied by the ambulatory surgical center, anesthesiologist and the gastroenterologist may not be the same. Read More