Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Patient Stories

Are Patients Receiving Opioids Safer Today Than 6 Years Ago?

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

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, 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

Must Reads, Patient Safety

Top 10 Patient Safety Must Reads – November 2016

We’re saying “hello” to December, and looking back at some of PPAHS’ top posts and tweets in November.

Top Posts

This month, as part of our new campaign targeting VTE in orthopedic patients, PPAHS was invited to become a partner of World Thrombosis Day!  We also provided bittersweet coverage regarding opioid safety, including celebrating St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System’s (SJ/C) 12-years event-free and opioid safety’s place – once again – on ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards. Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Preventing Opioid-Related Adverse Events with Capnography

Patient Monitoring

This year, St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System (SJ/C) celebrated 12 years free from opioid-related adverse events.  The PPAHS had the pleasure of interviewing Harold Oglesby, RRT, Manager to uncover the SJ/C team’s learnings in implementing the quality improvement project.

From the inception of the project, continuous electronic monitoring with capnography has been a cornerstone technology to keeping patients at SJ/C safe.  Mr. Oglesby and his team implemented a continuous monitoring program with capnography after identifying a need for reliable, early indication of patient decline in ventilation.  Since the initial pilot, the monitors have shown tangible results:

“There was a couple of ‘aha’ moments when we saw that capnography giving us, sometimes an hour earlier, [indication] of a patient that was getting into distress.”

Effective implementation is crucial whenever new technology is introduced in a clinical setting.  During our interview, Mr. Oglesby speaks to three key learnings to make continuous monitoring with capnography a success. Read More

Alarm Fatigue, Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Perspectives on Opioid Safety and Continuous Electronic Monitoring

by Sean Power

In honor of Patient Safety Awareness Week last week, the Premier Safety Institute gathered experts on opioid safety to participate in a webinar discussion. The panel, moderated by Gina Pugliese, RN, MS, vice president, Premier Safety Institute, Premier Inc., featured several authorities on opioid safety, including: Read More

Alarm Fatigue, Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

INFOGRAPHIC: First National Survey of Patient-Controlled Analgesia Practices

INFOGRAPHIC: First National Survey of Patient-Controlled Analgesia Practices

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Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) Adds Voice to Physicians and Patient Advocates Warning Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) Pain Pumps Need Better Monitoring

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS), an advocacy group devoted to improving patient health and safety, added its voice to a growing number of physicians and patient advocates warning that patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pain pumps need to be continuously electronically monitored with oximetry for oxygenation and capnography for adequacy of ventilation.

In a recent article, Everyday Health reports on one case involving a pain pump was that of 18-year old Amanda Abbiehl of Granger, Ind., who was looking forward to high school graduation when she came down with a throat infection so severe it landed her in the hospital. Her parents were relieved when a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pain pump delivering powerful opioids finally seemed to relieve their daughter’s blistering throat pain. Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety Announces New Expert Checklist for Facilitating Safety of Hospital-Based Intravenous Patient-Controlled Analgesia Pumps

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS), an advocacy group devoted to improving patient health and safety, today announced the release of a concise checklist that reminds caregivers of the essential steps needed to be taken to initiate Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) with a patient and to continue to assess that patient’s use of PCA. 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