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American Society for Pain Management Nursing guidelines on monitoring for opioid-induced sedation and respiratory depression.

University Medical Center, Tucson, Arizona 85724, USA.
Pain management nursing: official journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses (Impact Factor: 1.31). 09/2011; 12(3):118-145.e10. DOI: 10.1016/j.pmn.2011.06.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT As the complexity of analgesic therapies increases, priorities of care must be established to balance aggressive pain management with measures to prevent or minimize adverse events and to ensure high quality and safe care. Opioid analgesia remains the primary pharmacologic intervention for managing pain in hospitalized patients. Unintended advancing sedation and respiratory depression are two of the most serious opioid-related adverse events. Multiple factors, including opioid dosage, route of administration, duration of therapy, patient-specific factors, and desired goals of therapy, can influence the occurrence of these adverse events. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to educate all members of the health care team about the dangers and potential attributes of administration of sedating medications concomitant with opioid analgesia and the importance of initiating rational multimodal analgesic plans to help avoid adverse events. Nurses play an important role in: 1) identifying patients at risk for unintended advancing sedation and respiratory depression from opioid therapy; 2) implementing plans of care to assess and monitor patients; and 3) intervening to prevent the worsening of adverse events. Despite the frequency of opioid-induced sedation, there are no universally accepted guidelines to direct effective and safe assessment and monitoring practices for patients receiving opioid analgesia. Moreover, there is a paucity of information and no consensus about the benefits of technology-supported monitoring, such as pulse oximetry (measuring oxygen saturation) and capnography (measuring end-tidal carbon dioxide), in hospitalized patients receiving opioids for pain therapy. To date, there have not been any randomized clinical trials to establish the value of technologic monitoring in preventing adverse respiratory events. Additionally, the use of technology-supported monitoring is costly, with far-reaching implications for hospital and nursing practices. As a result, there are considerable variations in screening for risk and monitoring practices. All of these factors prompted the American Society for Pain Management Nursing to approve the formation of an expert consensus panel to examine the scientific basis and state of practice for assessment and monitoring practices for adult hospitalized patients receiving opioid analgesics for pain control and to propose recommendations for patient care, education, and systems-level changes that promote quality care and patient safety.

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