Patient Safety Alliances Urges Hospitals to Address PCA Pump Safety

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety is urging healthcare providers to boost electronic monitoring, including the use of both capnography and pulse oximetry, of all patients using patient-controlled analgesia.

According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, although technologies and knowledge exist today to prevent errors associated with use of patient-controlled analgesia, questions persist about how often PCA errors occur, whether existing medical practices are sufficient and what can be done about PCA errors.


Mike Wong, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Patient Compliance, interviewed Tim Ritter, senior patient safety analyst at the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, and Matthew Grissinger, director of Error Reporting Programs at ISMP, to discuss errors related to PCA.

"Over the six-year period from June 2004 to May 2010, data collected by Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority revealed that there were approximately 4,500 reports associated with PCA pumps," Mr. Ritter said. "Moreover, the FDA Manufacturer and User Device Experience database demonstrates that PCA-related device events are three times as likely to result in injury or death as reports of device events involving general-purpose infusion pumps."

Mr. Grissinger adds current checks and technology are sufficient enough to catch an error but not prevent one.

To read the interview in full, visit the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety's website.

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