Patients on Opioids Should be Monitored for Respiratory Compromise 24×7

Patients Should be Monitored for Respiratory Compromise 24×7 – this is the conclusion reached by a study by David Westfall Bates, MD (chief quality officer and chief of general internal medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor, Harvard Medical School).

Patients on Opioids Should be Monitored for Respiratory Compromise 24x7 #ptsafety Click To Tweet

Dr Bates’ study is highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal article by Laura Landro, “Hospitals Find New Ways to Monitor Patients 24/7”, discusses the problem of respiratory compromise which, if undetected, can lead to fatal consequences:

After surgery or during hospitalization for illness, patients are at risk for complications that can quickly turn fatal, such as a depressed breathing rate that can lead to cardiac arrest caused by over-sedation or an adverse reaction to narcotic pain medications.

Patients can show signs of deterioration—known in medical terms as “decompensation”—as many as six to eight hours ahead of a cardiac or respiratory arrest, studies show.

But the signs aren’t always picked up or acted upon by staff. Patients on general medical and surgical floors are usually not monitored 24/7 unlike patients in intensive care units, who are hooked up to multiple machines and monitors.

respiratory compromise if undetected can lead to fatal consequences #ptsafety Click To Tweet

What are the benefits of continuously electronically monitoring patients 24×7?

Dr Bates’ study found “shorter hospital stays and a lower rate of ‘code blue’ events (hospital lingo for a patient in immediate need of resuscitation or emergency medical attention), compared with units without the technology.”

To read the Wall Street Journal article, please click here.

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