How to Avoid Respiratory Depression During Conscious Sedation

A podcast interview soon to be released by the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety will detail one hospital’s experience in avoiding respiratory depression during conscious sedation. The podcast will feature Richard Kenney, MSM, RRT, NPS, ACCS, RCP (Director, Respiratory Care Services, White Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles).

Mr Kenney recently wrote an article for Advance for Respiratory Care and Sleep Medicine, “Essential Capnography” in which he describes how patient monitoring is a fundamental tool of the care team at White Memorial Medical Center.

Conscious Sedation (image source:
Conscious Sedation (image source:

In his article, Mr. Kenney discusses why patients using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps and patients undergoing conscious sedation procedures should be monitored closely:

Those patients who are on patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps are able to receive a continuous low dose of pain medications and they also have the ability to self-administer a prescribed dosage at a set time frame to help manage their pain. In some patients this has caused too much medication to be delivered and the patient becomes so sedated that it adversely suppresses their breathing. This can be life threatening if not caught early so the medication dosage can be stopped and/or reduced.

This same concern comes with all patients who receive conscious sedation for procedures. Every possible system that is available should be employed in order to protect patients from harm because they are always at risk of receiving more sedation medication than they can handle.

In the podcast, Mr. Kenney will go into further detail on his hospital’s experience. The podcast will look at:

  • The role of pulse oximetry and capnography in detecting respiratory depression in patients undergoing conscious sedation.
  • The PCA technology used at his hospital that automatically pauses the opioid infusion and alerts caregivers to a patient’s deteriorating condition.
  • The shared roles and responsibilities of nurses and respiratory therapists at White Memorial.
  • The management of nuisance alarms.

If you would like to receive a copy of the interview, please complete the information below:

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