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?

Read More

Opioid Safety, Position Statement, Respiratory Compromise

Patients Receiving Opioids Must Be Monitored With Continuous Electronic Monitoring PPAHS Position Statement on Continuous 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

Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Tyler’s Story: A Deadly PCA Medical Error

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

Hospital Acquired Conditions, Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

New Report on Preventing Respiratory Compromise in Vulnerable Patients

The Respiratory Compromise Institute (RCI) has recently published a new report titled “Respiratory Compromise as a New Paradigm for the Care of Vulnerable Hospitalized Patients”. PPAHS is a member of RCI, along with other health organizations such as the Society of Hospital Medicine, American Association for Respiratory Care, and CHEST/American College of Chest Physicians. Read More

Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

“Good” Hospitals Require Real Leaders

The following is an excerpt of an article written by Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety). It first appeared on Healthcare Business Today on April 9, 2017. To read the full article, please click here.

As the Executive Director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety, a non-profit whose mission is the improvement of patient safety, I am often asked how to tell a “good” hospital (i.e. patient safe) from a “bad” hospital (i.e. unsafe).

In thinking about “good” and “bad” hospital leadership, I am reminded of two discussions I had with hospital leaders – which leaders’ hospital would you rather be a patient at or, if you are a clinician, work at?

I spoke with the CEO of a hospital, who was dealing with the family of a child that had died within the hospital from opioid-induced respiratory depression. His clinicians had not employed continuous electronic monitoring with pulse oximetry for oxygenation or with capnography for adequacy of ventilation. Read More

Hospital Acquired Conditions, Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Nine Minutes to Improving Opioid Safety: PPAHS Releases Patient Safety Video

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

Opioid Safety, Practices & Tips, Respiratory Compromise

Minnesota RTs Help Implement Continuous Capnography Program

peggy lange

Peggy Lange, BA, RRT (RT Department Director, St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, MN)

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