Four essentials are offered on the safety of opioids

Four essential steps can help providers improve safety for patients using opioids, according to advice offered by the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS), a Chicago-based advocacy group of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, healthcare organizations, and patient safety advocacy groups.

The four essentials help improve patient safety by making patients and their families a partner with their healthcare providers:

1. Ensure patients/families are provided information on proper use of the patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) pump, so they understand that the pump delivers a powerful narcotic and that only they should activate the pump.

2. Make sure patients/families understand why they must be monitored for safety reasons. Explain oximetry on the finger and a capnography cannula on the nose.

3. Educate patients and families about monitor readouts.

4. Explain why alarms sound and what to do when they sound.

Caregivers are encouraged to make patients and their families partners in patient safety, explains Michael Wong, founder and executive director of PPAHS. “Taking a brief moment to explain these four essentials will improve patient safety,” he says.