Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Opioid Deaths Are (Still) Preventable: Remembering Leah


Leah walked into a Los Angeles hospital a healthy, 11-year old girl.  She needed an elective surgery to repair a condition called pectus carinatum.  Despite delays, the surgery went well, but Leah was in considerable pain; to manage it, she was given escalating doses of fentanyl, along with Ativan.  

Her mother, Lenore Alexander, was concerned by Leah’s increasing unresponsiveness – but was assured by staff that Leah would be ready to walk out of the hospital in the morning.  Exhausted, Lenore took a nap by her daughter’s bedside; it would be the last time Leah was seen alive.  Lenore woke to find Leah dead in bed.

In 2012, Lenore wrote an article for PPAHS asking if continuous monitoring would have saved her daughter, Leah.  The answer, then, was a resounding “yes”.  During her hospital stay, Leah received only infrequent spot checks from staff to confirm her condition despite the administration of powerful opioids.  If only she were monitored with capnography and pulse oximetry – we would not have another tragic story to tell.

Now, on the 14th anniversary of Leah’s death, we ask the same question: would continous monitoring have saved Leah’s life?   Read More

Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

We can help prevent deaths from medical error

By Lenore Alexander (Executive Director, LeahsLegacy)

For many years I have understood that to travel by plane, you should not have to get a pilot’s license.

I still think that is true, and that’s because the airline industry, along with the government, has addressed the job of fixing what was wrong and making air travel both safe and accountable.

In the past, I used that analogy to explain why I didn’t think you should need a medical background to be a safe patient. Time, knowledge and reality have changed my opinion.

To read her opinion, please click here.

Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Ten Things Patients Should Know About Opioid Safety

[Editor’s Note: This is from the Empowered Patient “Ten Things Patients Should Know Series”. Lenore Alexander is a member of the board of advisors for the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety. Since the tragic death of her daughter Leah, Lenore has been a passionate advocate for continuous electronic monitoring of all patients receiving opioids and opioid safety and, to help avoid adverse events and death while in hospital, encourages all patients and their families to be knowledgeable about medical treatments and care they will be receiving.] Read More

Opioid Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Open Letter for Patient Safety and Use of Continuous Electronic Monitoring

In the story, “Hypoxia After Surgery Much More Common Than Previously Believed — Study finds high rate of prolonged bouts of desaturation on wards” (Anesthesiology News, March), Daniel Sessler, MD (Michael Cudahy Professor & Chair, Department of Outcomes Research, The Cleveland Clinic; Director, Outcomes Research Consortium) who helped conduct the study, described its results as “sobering.” Read More

Alarm Fatigue, Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

PPAHS Joins Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation in Call for a “Paradigm Shift” in Opioid Safety

by Sean Power
February 19, 2014

“It’s time for a change in how we monitor postoperative patients receiving opioids,” declares Dr. Robert Stoelting, president of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF). “We need a complete paradigm shift in how we approach safer care for postoperative patients receiving opioids.” Read More

Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Continuous Electronic Monitoring Could Have Saved My Child, My Family, My Marriage and My Life: A 11-Year Reflection on a Medical Travesty

By Lenore Alexander (Executive Director, leahslegacy.org)

 The mother of Leah Coufal, Lenore Alexander is Executive Director of Leah’s Legacy, a non-profit advocate for mandatory electronic monitoring of patients on opioids.    She may be reached at lalexander@leahslegacy.org

(The article was first published in HealthCareReport.)

Eleven years ago, I found my 11-year-old daughter, Leah, dead next to me in her hospital bed.  And though I haven’t spent this time attending medical school, I now have a much better understanding of what happened during the 30 hours my child was in the hospital’s care.  It’s what’s come to be called a “perfect storm” – a cascade of mistakes and miscommunication. Read More

Alarm Fatigue, Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Adverse Drug Events Discussed at California Hospital Engagement Network

by Sean Power

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety recently participated in a webinar hosted through the California Hospital Engagement Network, an organization that brings together hospitals to reduce patient harm by 40% and readmissions by 20% by the end of 2013.

The panel discussion looked at patient stories and best practices for preventing opioid related adverse events. The panelists included: Read More

Opioid Safety, Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety Supports Leah’s Law For Continuous Electronic Monitoring of All Post-Operative Patients Receiving Opioids

AOL recently did a video feature on Lenore Alexander’s appearance on the Katie Couric Show “Shocking Medical Mistakes

AOL recounts Lenore’s discussion with Katie Couric that “Leah was not hooked up to any monitors” following her successful surgery to repair a condition called pectus carinatum or ‘pigeon’s chest’, a fairly common condition where the sternum protrudes forward caused by an overgrowth of cartilage. Read More