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
Written by James Welch, CEO Arc Biomedical Consultants (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Welch is a Clinical Engineer with 17 yrs experience in hospitals and over 24 yrs as an executive in the medical device industry. His focus has been on applying technologies to improve patient safety through continuous surveillance monitoring. Mr. Welch has ten patents and articles in the field of wireless physiologic monitoring, surveillance systems and alarm management. He regularly contributes to the AAMI Foundation on alarm safety and is a voting member on a number of International Standards committees.
Early detection of physiologic deterioration is essential in improving patient safety in acute care hospital settings. Patients in non-ICU settings who are recovering from surgery or special procedures are especially vulnerable because of private or semi-private room settings prevents direct observation and nurse to patient ratios are often 1:6. Experts in Rapid Response Systems (RRS) have arrived at a consensus that strengthening early detection through continuous monitoring is essential in improving the effectiveness of RRS but only if such systems do not impose a burden on the clinical staff. The high incidence of nuisance alarms and cost are two of the major barriers preventing broader adoption of continuous monitoring on the general care floor. Read More
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
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
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
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
Tyler was 18-years old when he was admitted to hospital for a pain in his chest.
It was a collapsed lung – the second time he had experienced one that year, and a condition that tall, young, slim males like Tyler can be prone to. To permanently correct the problem, Tyler underwent a procedure called pleurodesis, a common procedure to permanently prevent his lung from collapsing again. Upon the successful completion of the surgery, Tyler’s mother, Victoria Ireland said that she “breathed a sigh of relief”. Her son was going to be OK; all he needed to do was recover. Read More
The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) has released a YouTube video which discusses in nine minutes how to improve opioid safety. The video features highlights from over 10 hours of in-depth interviews released by PPAHS in 2016; altogether, the podcast series has generated over 130,000 cumulative views on YouTube. The podcast series brings together physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists discussing how they have improved opioid safety in their hospitals.
According to Michael Wong, JD, Founder and Executive Director of PPAHS:
“In just nine minutes, the video summarizes experiences of clinicians in improving opioid safety in their hospital or healthcare facility, and reminds us of the tragic consequences of adverse events and deaths that may ensue if clinicians and healthcare executives are not proactive in promoting safety. We hope that the video will energize quality improvement and patient safety teams to strive to reduce adverse events and deaths related to opioid use.”
The opioid epidemic was one of the most heavily-covered, and hotly-debated, topic in patient safety covered in 2016. This dialogue has been mostly centered around the effects of ‘street’ use and abuse of prescription painkillers. In contrast, the PPAHS podcast series aims to highlight the preventable harm of opioid-induced respiratory depression during hospital procedures. Read More
A recent article published by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) has highlighted how respiratory therapists (RT) can play an integral role in using capnography to detect the signs of respiratory depression. The post focuses on the experiences of Peggy Lange, BA, RRT (RT Department Director, St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, MN).
Over a three month period, St. Cloud Hospital ran a pilot program to test the effectiveness of continuous capnography monitoring Center for Surgical Care, PACU, surgical care units, interventional radiology, electrophysiology lab, and emergency trauma center. The trial was successful, proving the monitors gave an early alert to the signs of respiratory distress, as well as resolving issues caused by nuisance alarms – particularly with patients experiencing sleep apnea or periods of hyperventilation. As a result, continuous capnography monitoring was implemented hospital-wide. Read More
Leah walked into a Los Angeles hospital a healthy, 11-year old girl. She needed an elective surgery to repair a condition called pectus carinatum. Despite delays, the surgery went well, but Leah was in considerable pain; to manage it, she was given escalating doses of fentanyl, along with Ativan.
Her mother, Lenore Alexander, was concerned by Leah’s increasing unresponsiveness – but was assured by staff that Leah would be ready to walk out of the hospital in the morning. Exhausted, Lenore took a nap by her daughter’s bedside; it would be the last time Leah was seen alive. Lenore woke to find Leah dead in bed.
In 2012, Lenore wrote an article for PPAHS asking if continuous monitoring would have saved her daughter, Leah. The answer, then, was a resounding “yes”. During her hospital stay, Leah received only infrequent spot checks from staff to confirm her condition despite the administration of powerful opioids. If only she were monitored with capnography and pulse oximetry – we would not have another tragic story to tell.
Now, on the 14th anniversary of Leah’s death, we ask the same question: would continous monitoring have saved Leah’s life? Read More