Remarkable changes can occur when a community comes together to improve patient safety, especially when using modern and traditional media to spread the message. July 17, 2013, was the third anniversary of the premature death of Amanda Abbiehl, an 18-year old admitted to the hospital for throat pain. Given pain medication through a patient-controlled analgesia pain pump (PCA), Amandas family kissed her goodnight and left the hospital relieved that she was receiving help. Twelve and a half hours later, she was found unresponsive and passed away.
In memory of Amanda, her parents, Cindy and Brian, created the A Promise to Amanda Foundation, with a mission to raise awareness of the dangers of PCA pumps to patients and hospitals. The Foundation encourages the use of more effective life-saving equipment, specifically continuous electronic monitoring with pulse oximetry and capnography, the monitoring of oxygen (O2) in the blood stream, and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the lungs, respectively.
Three years later, the A Promise to Amanda Foundation has made large strides in achieving its goal. With the help of the University of Notre Dame’s graphic design students, the website was launched to commemorate the second anniversary of Amandas death. Efforts have also included blogging, tweeting, and posting on Facebook. As a result, the Foundation has been an active source of information, news and patient incident stories for readers and hospitals around the world.
In Amandas hometown of South Bend, Ind., hospitals like Memorial Hospital and Elkhart General Hospital are monitoring patients receiving opioids with capnography.
The Foundations efforts are also being felt nationally. Brian and Cindy Abbiehl spoke at the Northern Regional Respiratory Care Conference, a meeting held for respiratory health care professionals, which had a record-breaking number of speakers and attendees. In addition, the two participated in a webinar for the Premier Safety Institute, a health care alliance of more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals and 86,000 other health care sites.
While positive changes are being implemented, the fight to ensure the safety of every patient on PCA pumps cannot continue without support from our communities. By following the Foundation and by educating loved ones and others who will be affected by PCA, the push will continue until the promise to Amanda has been fulfilled.