(BPT) - For 15 years, the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has led Patient Safety Awareness Week. NPSF is a nonprofit organization whose vision is to create a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm. Held annually in March, Patient Safety Awareness Week is a time dedicated to help raise awareness about patient safety among health care professionals and the public.

In recognition of Patient Safety Awareness Week, it is important that people understand the risks associated with the second leading avoidable patient safety issue — respiratory compromise. Respiratory compromise is a progressive condition impacting a patient’s ability to breathe. If left untreated while a patient recovers from surgery in a hospital or during an outpatient procedure using anesthesia, it can lead to respiratory failure, and even death.

“Patient Safety Awareness Week is an important opportunity for patients and their families to learn more about respiratory compromise, which is a serious patient safety issue,” said Phil Porte, Executive Director, Respiratory Compromise Institute. “If you are undergoing a medical or surgical procedure, speak with your health care provider about this preventable condition. Ask them about your risks for respiratory compromise and how it can be prevented.”

Risk factors for respiratory compromise include: obstructive sleep apnea, age, obesity and chronic pulmonary disease, among others. Respiratory compromise is often avoidable, despite being a serious health issue.

By using appropriate therapies and monitoring technologies to evaluate a patient’s respiratory status, health care professionals can detect respiratory compromise and treat patients earlier. One such technology, capnography, can help detect compromise in its earliest stages.

Visit www.respiratorycompromise.org to learn more about respiratory compromise.