The Good and Bad News for Patients Receiving Opioids: Physician-Patient Alliance Presents Survey Results at International Anesthesia Research Society Annual Conference

At the International Anesthesia Research Society annual conference, which took place May 17-20, 2014, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety presented results from the first national survey of patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) practice. The survey results showed good news and bad news for patients receiving opioids.

Attendees present at the results lecture expressed disappointment that hospitals were not assessing patients for risk factor (such as opioid naïve, age, weight, etc) and performing double checks to ensure opioids were administered safely.

Michael Wong, JD, founder and executive director of the Physician-Patient Alliance, said that double checks ensure that the five rights of medication administration practice have been followed. Says Mr. Wong, “This means ensuring that these five rights occur – the right patient receives the right medication and the right dose via the right route at the right time.”

Optimism was expressed by attendees regarding the role of continuous electronic monitoring of patients receiving opioids. The survey found that adverse events have been averted and/or costs and expenses reduced by hospitals that are continuously monitoring their patients with pulse oximetry and/or capnography. This finding demonstrates the critical importance of using continuous monitoring as a technological safety net for patients. Additionally, it identifies a way in which hospitals may reduce their costs and expenditures.

“However, when we looked at the type of smart pump being used at the facilities reporting a decline in adverse events or a return on investment, there was a significant correlation with those using smart pumps with integrated end tidal monitoring,”says Mr. Wong. “Those using smart pumps with integrated end tidal monitoring were almost three times more likely to have had a reduction in adverse events or a return on investment when measured against costs and expenses (including litigation costs) that might have been incurred. These are critically important and significant findings a hospital can use to improve quality and safety while reducing total costs.”

The Physician-Patient Alliance is preparing a follow-on survey with those hospitals that said that they were continuously monitoring its patients receiving opioids. Explains Mr. Wong, “This second survey will provide better understanding of the role continuous monitoring has in reducing adverse events and hospital expenditures, and illuminate those best practices from these hospitals.”

For a pdf of the poster presentation, please click here.

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