• The Gist: In PCA cases, look for device malfunction or operator error. The latter is more often associated with serious adverse outcomes.
By Margaret Wacker, RN, PhD, CLNC
for The Medical-Legal News
Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) has become the standard of care for the treatment of postoperative pain.
This modality of opioid administration offers many advantages: 1) patients are able to administer their own analgesia and adjust the dose to achieve desired pain relief; 2) intermittent dosing by nursing staff is eliminated; and 3) PCA maintains a relatively constant plasma level of the drug. PCA can be administered by intravenous, subcutaneous or epidural routes.
Safe PCA use demands proper patient selection, education, assessment and monitoring. A number of factors need to be considered when ascertaining if a patient is an appropriate candidate for PCA.
Of primary importance is the capability of the patient…