Studies highlight risk of respiratory depression


Commonly used methods of monitoring patient respiration in hospitals miss critical early indicators of impending deterioration and pose serious risks to patients. 

This is according to research presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists this week.

The findings conclude that respiratory volume monitoring using the ExSpiron Patient Monitor by Respiratory Motion more consistently protects patients than traditional capnography and pulse oximetry technologies and can provide enhanced, proactive, preventative clinical care to patients.

Eight studies, using the company's technology, were conducted at four major hospital centers, including such institutions as Massachusetts General Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, University of Vermont Medical Center and Vidant Medical Center. The studies consistently found that commonly used respiratory monitoring technologies fail to protect many patients who are anesthetized using opioids, which are widely used analgesics. 

The studies show that capnography and pulse oximetry are inadequate to provide early notification of respiratory compromise in patients – failing to forewarn caregivers about potential respiratory depression that can threaten their patients' lives. Researchers concluded the older monitoring technologies simply are not sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in respiration.

"Clinicians have long understood that, in non-intubated patients, accurate measurement of respiratory volume would be ideal for early detection of respiratory compromise,” said Dr Peggy Duke, professor emeritus of Anesthesiology, Emory University School of Medicine.

“Until now, we had no choice except to use surrogates, i.e. pulse oximetry and/or capnography, neither of which can detect early respiratory depression.  Late detection of respiratory compromise puts our patients at serious risk and increases complications and costs for our institutions. The ability to continuously monitor minute ventilation and respiratory patterns in non-intubated patients will be a 'game-changer' and will markedly increase patient safety."

Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists, Asia-Pacific, US, Emory University School of Medicine