CHA News Article

Sentinel Event Alert Focuses on Safe Use of Opioids
Identifies effective practices

The Joint Commission has issued a new Sentinel Event Alert urging hospitals to take specific steps to prevent serious complications or death from opioid use. The Joint Commission recommends that health care organizations implement effective practices, such as monitoring patients who receive opioids on an ongoing basis; use pain management specialists or pharmacists to review pain management plans and track opioid incidents; use available technology to improve prescribing safety of opioids, such as creating alerts for dosing limits, using “tall man” lettering in electronic ordering systems, using a conversion support system to calculate correct dosages and using patient-controlled analgesia; provide education and training for clinicians, staff and patients about the safe use of opioids; and use standardized tools to screen patients for risk factors, such as over-sedation and respiratory depression. The Joint Commission alert, attached below, also includes details about respiratory depression risk factors, and information relevant to opioid risks and safety.