Electronic post-op monitoring important to patient safety, says study

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According to a recent survey by the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS), the majority of physicians polled stated that electronic monitoring of patients following surgical procedures could reduce the risk of opioid-related deaths, reports Healthcare IT News.

The report indicates that healthcare professionals believe that monitoring levels of oxygenation and post-surgery ventilation using healthcare IT is one of the most effective ways of reducing patient overdoses involving analgesic medications. Of the healthcare professionals polled as part of the study, 90 percent of physicians said that continuous electronic monitoring of patient vital signs should be considered and available for all individuals who have undergone surgical procedures.

“The question asked whether continuous monitoring should be ‘available and considered’ for all patients,” Dr, Marc Popovich, medical director of the surgical intensive care unit at the Cleveland Clinic, told the news source. “What this survey result is saying is that 10 percent do not have monitoring available, and it is not even being considered for their patients after surgery.”

The suggested use of healthcare IT equipment and medical devices would monitor patients for elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream following surgical procedures. The survey indicates that such practices would also record “clinically significant” depression of ventilation due to opioid medication following surgery.

According to the report, the number of analgesic-related overdose fatalities more than tripled between 1997 and 2007, equivalent to more than 36 percent of all recorded poisoning deaths in 2007. In 1999, opioid analgesic medications were involved in 20 percent of overdose fatalities.

Helen Haskell, co-founder of the Empowered Patient Coalition, told the news source that post-surgical overdose fatalities should be one of the most easily preventable medical accidents in modern healthcare facilities.