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Hospital Boosts Patient Safety With Expanded Use Of Capnography Technology

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 10:47am

Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County (MHLC) recently strengthened patient safety measures by expanding the use of capnography technology to monitor patients using patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps to regulate their pain.

PCA can provide an effective way to control pain by allowing patients to self-administer small doses of pain medication intravenously, but the technology poses unique risks for patients because the opioid medications used can also suppress the patient's breathing. The Joint Commission, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices all recommend that hospitals take special precautions including capnography and oximetry to monitor PCA users' quality of ventilation.

Specifically, capnography technology measures how effectively patients are breathing by measuring exhaled carbon dioxide and can alert medical caregivers when life-threatening respiratory depression occurs. Capnography provides the earliest indication of evolving respiratory compromise, which can lead to significant morbidity or even cardiopulmonary arrest if undetected. Oximetry monitors the patient's blood oxygen levels ensuring that the patient is receiving enough oxygen.

MHLC is among the nation's leaders in the early implementation of capnography to protect patients using PCA pumps. Long used in operating rooms to monitor patients under anesthesia, hospitals are now deploying capnography technology after surgery, as well. Early indication of respiratory depression with capnography enables medical staff to intervene before serious adverse events happen.1

"Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County considers patient safety our number one priority while providing the highest quality of care. Our widespread use of capnography to monitor patient respiration underscores this commitment," said MHLC Director of Nursing Kathy Ruef . "We gladly embrace the latest recommendations to provide our patients the safest patient experience possible."

In late 2012, Memorial Hospital decided that it wanted the ability to monitor carbon dioxide levels on patients receiving patient controlled pain medication. After extensive investigation, it determined the safest way to do this was to purchase new IV and PCA pumps that could monitor carbon dioxide levels and automatically shut down pain medication delivery if a patient's carbon dioxide level was not within normal levels.  The hospital chose Alaris IV pumps, as they have all those safety features and contain capnography equipment from Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products and recognized innovator in patient monitoring and respiratory care devices. Alaris IV pumps also have features to program all of our medication protocols to add another layer of patient safety. 

"We commend Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County for being part of a growing number of facilities across the country committed to patient safety through the use of capnography," says Robert J. White , President, Respiratory & Monitoring Solutions, Covidien. "Its decision to monitor patients at risk of respiratory depression with both capnography and oximetry ensures patients have a level of protection from risk when using state-of-the-art pain management systems."

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