Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

What do Joan Rivers and Katherine O’Donnell Have in Common?

Joan Rivers and Katherine O’Donnell underwent medical procedures. They and their loved ones expected these procedures to be routine – and, yet, they tragically died during their medical procedures prompting their families to commence lawsuits.

As reported by CNN, Joan Rivers died during throat surgery: Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Why You Should Let Patients Participate in PCA Safety Checklists, Too

by Sean Power

(This article first appeared in Healthcare News.)

Last month, in an Outpatient Surgery e-weekly newsletter, Jim Burger shared research by Tulane University Hospital and Clinic in New Orleans, suggesting that surgical teams are more likely to use the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist when patients know about the existence of such checklists. All of the informed patients said that knowing about the checklist made them feel more comfortable going into surgery.

In the study, which was presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ conference, students secretly monitored 104 procedures. In 43 cases, patients were told about the checklist; in the other 61 procedures, patients were left in the dark. Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Monitoring the High-Acuity Patient: Does Risk Stratification Increase or Decrease Patient Safety?

by Dr. Frank Overdyk (Executive Director for Research, North American Partners in Anesthesiology, and Professor of Anesthesiology at Hofstra University School of Medicine)

Summary: The topic of who is a suitable candidate for outpatient surgery is front and center with productivity pressures being intense at ambulatory surgery centers. However, with surgery often comes the necessity of the use of opioids for pain control. Studies have shown that any patient receiving opioids may be at risk of postoperative respiratory depression and if undetected, respiratory arrest  (also known as “Code Blue”). The most common antecedents to cardiopulmonary arrest are of respiratory origin. Respiratory decompensation—as evidenced by tachypnea, bradypnea, hypoxia, hypercarbia or changes in mental status—are often the earliest warning signs of physiologic instability. Monitoring respiratory function and level of consciousness are especially important in detecting and preventing adverse events for patients receiving opioids and sedatives. Read More