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Seizure. 2012 Mar;21(2):124-7. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2011.10.004. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Improving safety outcomes in the epilepsy monitoring unit.

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Department of Neurology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 4201 St. Antoine, 8A UHC, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Long term video electroencephalography (EEG) in epilepsy monitoring units (EMU) is used to diagnose and treat patients with epilepsy. Injury occurs in the EMU, including reports of death. No standardized patient safety protocols exist. Our objective is to determine the frequency and contributing factors to injury in the EMU. We reviewed medical records and video EEG of patients with epilepsy admitted to our EMU from December 1, 2008 to June 1, 2009. Data was collected on seizure type, onset, length, and frequency. Seizure related falls, injury, and adverse events were recorded. Data regarding the physical environment and treatment during seizures were analyzed too. 20 patients with 170 seizures were collected. Of the 170 total seizures captured, only 1 injury (0.6%) and 6 falls occurred (3.5%). 5 of the 6 falls were related to patients being ambulatory. No seizures resulted in prolonged stay. Of the 170 seizures captured, other adverse events included 1 status epilepticus (0.6%), 2 postictal aggression (1.2%), 4 objects in mouth (2.4%), 14 ambulatory at seizure onset (8.2%) and 5 postictal ambulation from bed (2.9%). Staff responded to 69 out of 170 seizures (40.6%). Of the 101 seizures without staff response, 57 seizures were electrographic without seizure detection software or push button activation. Falls and adverse events that can lead to injury occur in the EMU, yet the degree of actual injury is minimal. To improve safety outcomes, standardized protocols with appropriate outlined nursing care and procedures for continuous monitoring of patients by staff need to be employed.

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