Six years ago on July 27, 2011, I posted the first article on a free WordPress blog for the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety. It was titled “Is it possible to survive 96-minutes without a heart beat?”. Howard Snitzer, a man who suffered a heart attack survived after two volunteer paramedics responded and began a 96-minute CPR marathon. The ordeal involved 20 others, who took turns pumping his chest. This life-saving feat was only possible with the use of capnography readings, which told the volunteer paramedics that Howard was still alive and that they needed to continue their efforts.
Little would I know that that article would lead to an invitation by the University of Notre Dame and the beginnings of a 6-year friendship with the parents of Amanda Abbiehl. Amanda was admitted to hospital for “severe strep throat.” Read More
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
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
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
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
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 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
“I’m going to have surgery soon and I have been told I will be given an opioid medication to control the pain after the operation. But I see stories of people getting hooked on opioids all over the news, and I’m scared to take them. Am I right to be worried?”
Paul Taylor, patient navigation advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, recently fielded this question in a special to the Globe and Mail. The answer recommended that concerns about opioids be “kept in perspective” and that they can be extremely useful in managing short-term pain, noting that “problems can arise when patients end up on the drugs for longer than is necessary.” The addictive properties of opioids are indeed reason for concern.
We wanted to add an additional perspective, particularly on safe use of opioids for acute pain after surgery, especially while patients are still in the hospital receiving care. Read More
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
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