Atlantic General Hospital Boosts Patient Safety With Expanded Use Of Capnography

Atlantic General Hospital recently strengthened patient safety measures by expanding its use of capnography to monitor patients using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) to regulate their pain after surgery.

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 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 monitoring patients with capnography and oximetry.

Specifically, capnography 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.

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

“Atlantic General Hospital is committed to providing the highest quality of care. Our widespread use of capnography to monitor a patient’s breathing is in line with the latest recommendations and underscores our dedication to patient safety,” said Scott Rose, director of the intensive care unit (ICU).

The hospital installed the new capnography equipment this spring in conjunction with the rollout of new smart pump technology for all inpatient and observation rooms, which closed the patient safety loop with medication administration. Clinicians must scan their badges, then the patient’s armband, and finally, the IV medication bag before the drug can be dispensed, providing a triple check for medication accuracy.

Atlantic General Hospital chose capnography equipment from Covidien, a leading global provider of healthcare products and recognized innovator in patient monitoring and respiratory care devices.

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

About Atlantic General Hospital
Atlantic General Hospital has been providing quality health care to the residents of Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset (Md.) and Sussex (Del.) counties since May 1993. Built by the commitment and generosity of a dedicated community, the hospital’s state-of-the-art facility in Berlin, Md., combines old-fashioned personal attention with the latest in technology and services. It provides quality specialty care such as retina surgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedics, outpatient infusion for individuals with cancer or blood/autoimmune disorders, and a comprehensive women’s diagnostic center. Atlantic General Health System, its network of more than 40 primary care providers and specialists, care for residents and visitors throughout the region. For more information visit Atlantic General Hospital.
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