According to an article by Anesthesiology News, monitoring for low minute ventilation during the 45 minutes before anticipated PACU discharge can identify patients at risk for post-op opioid-induced respiratory depression.

14% of the study cohort had at least one low minute ventilation event within 45 minutes after PACU discharge. What’s more, high-risk patients who experienced one of these low-minute ventilation events near PACU discharge had a 10-fold increase in the incidence of opioid-induced respiratory depression after opioid administration on the general hospital floor. There was also a sixfold increase in respiratory depression in high-risk patients, even in the absence of IV opioids on the general hospital floor.

Given these findings, monitoring for predicted minute ventilation and low minute ventilation events before PACU discharge may be a useful way to identify postoperative patients at risk for subsequent opioid-induced respiratory depression.