Learning About Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression from Logan’s Death

Learning About Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression from Logan’s Death

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder & Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

An Introduction to Logan

In 2016, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Pamela Parker, BSN, RN, CAPA about what happened to her 17-year-old son, Logan. 

Pamela Parker has been a registered nurse for about 30 years. She is a recovery room nurse and, at the time of our interview, worked in the ambulatory procedure unit at a hospital in Indiana. In addition to providing patient care, Ms. Parker is a clinical educator and provides bereavement support. To help others with the loss of loved ones, she writes a blog “Hope for Grieving Mothers.”

Logan - Hope for Grieving Mothers

As Ms. Parker wrote in her article for Advance for Nurses:

On July 23, 2007, my 17-year old son Logan died after successfully undergoing routine surgery to correct his sleep apnea. As a recovery room nurse, I have often asked myself how this could have been prevented.

Logan, Pamela Parker’s son

As it has been more than 5 years since that interview, I caught up with Ms. Parker to discuss the impact that Logan’s story has had.

Logan’s story has been featured on Advance for Nurses and Sleep Review. What did you hope to achieve by telling his story?

I only wanted to create awareness about the dangers of opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD) so that no other family would have to go through what we had to.

More importantly, I hoped that my experiences could be instructive for other nurses and therefore I wrote the Advance for Nurses article which contained these 6 lessons:

Lesson #1 – All Patients Receiving Opioids Should be Assessed for Risk for Over-sedation and Respiratory Depression

Lesson #2 – Clinicians Must Recognize the Signs of Respiratory Compromise

Lesson #3 – All Patients Receiving Opioids Should be Continuously Electronically Monitored

Lesson #4 – Don’t Rely Upon Pulse Oximeters, Monitor with Capnography

Lesson #5 – All Patients Should be Monitored for an Extended Period in an Unstimulated Environment Prior to Discharge

Lesson #6 – Medical Interventions Shouldn’t be Based on Human Heroics, but on Process

Do you think that Logan’s story has had an impact on nurses?

I remain surprised when I hear someone mention they have heard about Logan and this story. The impact of his story cannot be measured. 

A few years ago I was attending a conference. One of the presenters was recounting a story about a patient who suffered from opioid-induced respiratory depression and passed away. The story was so similar to Logan’s scenario but the patient was a girl.  After the presentation, I wanted to share the similarities with her. 

While I was waiting, another nurse inquired about the appropriate length of time to monitor a post-tonsillectomy patient. I interjected by mentioning Logan’s story. Another nurse in the crowd asked, did you write that article? After nodding yes, she shared, “I brought this article to our staff meeting and everyone read a paragraph. By the end of the article, we all had tears.” She explained to them, “This is why we are using capnography.”

What do you think that Logan would think about this?

Logan would be absolutely delighted that so many people are reading about him! Logan’s death has had an amazing impact.  Much more than I could have ever imagined.


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