In advance of our August 10th PCA safety fundraiser and awareness campaign we wanted to reflect on some of the Promise to Amanda Foundation’s accomplishments this year.

1. At least thirty-six hospitals across the country now continuously electronically monitor patients on a PCA pump after surgery.

You may remember in April that the Promise to Amanda Foundation spoke with NBC-affiliate WNDU about Memorial Hospital of South Bend in Indiana’s promise to Amanda. As Dr. Cheryl Wibbens, Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Hospital, explains, “Every patient at Memorial that has opioids is a little safer now. Continuously electronically monitoring with capnography will save lives.” The Promise to Amanda Foundation has identified at least thirty-six hospitals that have likewise made a commitment to monitor every patient that has opioids with continuous electronic monitoring.

We’re actively seeking out other hospitals that monitor and we are urging hospital leaders to implement continuous electronic monitoring at their facilities.

2. Anyone across the country can find the closest hospital that monitors patients receiving opioids with continuous electronic monitoring.

In May 2013 the Promise to Amanda Foundation turned our list of hospitals that monitor into an interactive map. Anybody in the United States can enter their home address, find hospitals nearby that monitor patients with capnography and pulse oximetry, and get directions to the hospital.

3. Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other healthcare professionals from coast to coast have heard our plea that they make a Promise to Amanda to monitor with capnography.

In the past year the Promise to Amanda Foundation has shared Amanda’s story with healthcare providers and decision makers at hospitals across the country. We’ve sought out and taken advantage of speaking opportunities ranging from online webinars, such as the Premier Safety Institute’s discussion about adverse drug events, to live conferences like the Northern Regional Respiratory Care Conference in Wisconsin Dells, WI.

We will continue to seek out and speak in front of these audiences. Healthcare professionals hold the keys to change.

4. We have joined the ranks of other patient safety groups advocating for capnography and pulse oximetry.

Many other organizations are speaking in favor of continuous electronic monitoring for all patients receiving opioids after surgery. We’ve begun to build relationships with many of the following groups:

  • The Joint Commission;
  • National Patient Safety Foundation
  • Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation
  • Mothers Against Medical Error
  • Louise Batz Patient Safety Foundation
  • Emily Jerry Foundation
  • Anesthesia Quality Institute
  • Premier Safety Institute
  • Institution for Safe Medication Practices
  • ECRI Institute
  • The Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

We will continue to partner with allies as we raise awareness about the dangers associated with opioid induced respiratory depression and the need for continuous electronic monitoring of all patients receiving opioids.

5. The media and the government are paying attention.

Throughout this journey, local and national media alike have covered Amanda’s story and the stories of patients like Amanda. We’ve highlighted some of the coverage here.

Just as important, policymakers are taking note of the dangers of opioid use in pain management. US Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Chief Deputy Whip, is urging the US House of Representatives to work to put an end to preventable patient deaths. Mr. Ellison recently shared the story of 11 year-old Leah Coufal, the daughter of Lenore Alexander who is an advocate through our partner, Mothers Against Medical Error. Like Amanda, Leah tragically died because she was not adequately monitored while receiving opioids.

Mountains Ahead

Reflecting on these milestones makes clear the success of the Foundation. However doing so also exposes how much work still needs to be done.

We need to raise awareness about opioid induced respiratory depression. Hospital patients are still not monitored with capnography while using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA).

We need to put an end to these preventable deaths. Patients are still dying because of opioid induced respiratory depression related to PCA.

We need to continue to get healthcare professionals and policy makers on board. There still exist hospitals in the United States where patients are not continuously electronically monitored. We can change that.

We need everyone to make a Promise to Amanda, that they will not allow their patients, friends, family, or anyone undergoing surgery to die because they were not monitored while using a PCA pump.

Capnography saves lives. Make a #Promise to Amanda today. Help us eliminate preventable deaths for all patients receiving opioids.