New National Survey Finds Patient Safety at Risk Because of Lack of Consistency in Hospital Patient-Controlled Analgesia Practices

Inconsistency in safe practices most likely accounts for large proportion of adverse events and deaths associated with PCA use, says Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety.

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety today released the results from a national survey of United States hospitals on the administration of patient-controlled analgesia (PCA).

According to reports made to the Food and Drug Administration between 2005 and 2009, more than 56,000 adverse events and 700 patient deaths were linked to PCA pumps.

“A national survey of hospitals regarding PCA administration has never been conducted despite PCA pumps being linked to such a high number of adverse events and deaths,” says Michael Wong, JD, founder and executive director of the Physician-Patient Alliance.

“On the negative side, the survey reveals that there is a huge cause for concern for patient safety, as there is a great lack of consistency in safety procedures being followed by hospitals across the country,” says Mr. Wong. “This most likely accounts for a large proportion of adverse events and deaths associated with PCA use.”

Mr. Wong continues: “On the positive side, survey findings also show that adverse events have been averted or costs and expenses reduced by hospitals that are continuously monitoring their patients with pulse oximetry and/or capnography. This demonstrates the critical importance of using continuous monitoring as technological safety nets for patients. As well, it also points to a way hospitals may reduce their costs and expenses.”

A copy of the survey results is available for free on the Physician-Patient Alliance website here.

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