As the first medical professional liability insurer to establish a patient safety department, The Doctors Company remains the leader in developing innovative tools that can help you reduce risk and keep your patients safe.
A pre-sedation exam is essential to patient safety. Assigning an ASA score (the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ risk score) to each patient will ensure that those who need further workups (i.e., those with an ASA score of >2) should be cleared prior to sedation.
Gaining appropriate written informed consent is part of the pre-sedation evaluation. In addition, ask pertinent patient history questions about prior problems with anesthetics, drug allergies, and smoking. Include a complete medication reconciliation that also addresses herbal and over-the-counter medications.
Go to the ASA Standards and Guidelines page, and select the Sedation tab to read complete guidelines titled Distinguishing Monitored Anesthesia Care (“MAC”) from Moderate Sedation/Analgesia (Conscious Sedation).
Become familiar with the following guidelines:
Keeping abreast of the latest research and drug modalities will help you maintain your competency and keep your patients safe from medication administration errors. Be aware of the pharmacology of the drugs being used, including the use and availability of reversal agents for commonly administered drugs.
Sedation disasters can still occur in spite of the sophisticated monitoring machines in use today. Most of these events should not occur, but do because the alarms had been silenced or they were silenced at the end of the prior case and not turned back on. (Some machines do not automatically reset the alarm.) Do not neglect the pulse oximeter and CO2 alarms. (ASA guidelines require that alarms be audible to the members of the care team.).
By Susan Shepard, MSN, RN, Director, Patient Safety Education; and Ann S. Lofsky, MD, Governor Emeritus (deceased).
The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.