Early intervention techniques are key to preventing fatal outcomes
Opioid fatalities remain a major health epidemic. More deaths occur from opioids than from car accidents.1 Protecting patients by increasing awareness and putting a safety plan in place have never been more important. The CDC and U.S. Department of Health recommend the following steps when prescribing opioids to mitigate a patient’s risk of negative side effects:2,3
Establish Treatment Goals
Before prescribing opioid therapy for chronic pain, establish a treatment plan with patients, including realistic expectations for managing pain, conditions, and behaviors that can increase the risk of overdose and other methods that may help them control pain.
Increase Patient Awareness
Many patients don’t realize that prescription opioids can lead to respiratory depression. Educate patients about the signs and symptoms, including extreme drowsiness, cold hands, cloudy thinking, nausea and/or vomiting, and especially slowed or stopped breath.
Encourage a Safety Plan
Respiratory depression is most common when a patient is alone or asleep. Encourage patients to develop a safety plan and share it with friends, partners, or caregivers so they can recognize the symptoms of an opioid emergency and act.
Continuous Monitoring Solutions
Growing research suggests that 62% of fatalities caused by OIRD could have been prevented by continuous monitoring devices. These patients are also more likely to experience brain damage or death outside of a medical setting, at home.4-6
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Patient Outcomes by Event Location and Monitoring7*
Greater than half of the events occurred on the ward in OSA patients. Most events occurred within 24 h of anesthesia end time. Cases with missing data on exact time of event (n = 3: n = 1 ward and n = 2 home events) were excluded from timing statistics. ICU indicates intensive care unit; PACU, postanesthesia recovery unit; SD, standard deviation.7
*Postoperative Events n=66
Odds of Dying - Data Details.” National Safety Council; Injury Facts, 4 Mar. 2021, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/all-injuries/preventable-death-overview/odds-of-dying/data-details/
“Prescription Opioids | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/prescribed.html.
Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2020.
Metzner J, Posner KL, Domino KB. The risk and safety of anesthesia at remote locations: the US closed claims analysis. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2009 Aug;22(4):502-8. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e32832dba50. PMID: 19506473.
McGrath S et al. Surveillance Monitoring Management for General Care Units: Strategy, Design, and Implementation. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2016 Jul;42(7):293-302.
Gupta K, Nagappa M, Prasad A, et al. Risk factors for opioid-induced respiratory depression in surgical patients: a systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ Open 2018;8:e024086. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2018-024086
Bolden N, Posner KL, Domino KB, et al. Postoperative Critical Events Associated With Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Results From the Society of Anesthesia and Sleep Medicine Obstructive Sleep Apnea Registry. Anesth Analg. 2020;131(4):1032-1041.