Patient Safety

Respiratory Depression Injuries Overwhelmingly Preventable: Must Reads for June 12

We could think of no better must read for this week than this.

A new study from the Anesthesia Closed Claims Project and Anesthesia Quality Institute has found that:

Respiratory depression (RD) often strikes patients within 24 hours of surgery and causes death or brain damage in the most serious of these cases, yet these injuries are often preventable …

More than 88% of the RD events that led to malpractice cases occurred within 24 hours of surgery, with 77% resulting in severe brain damage or death …

Howvever, the overwhelming majority of cases—97%—were judged to have been preventable if there had been better monitoring of the patients or a more adequate response once RD was identified.

Researchers recommended:

tighter controls over the prescription of sedatives and opioid-based pain medication, better training of clinical staff in assessing the signs of RD and more effective postoperative monitoring of patients who are prescribed opioids.

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