Influence of Pulse Oximetry and Capnography on Time to Diagnosis of Critical Incidents in Anesthesia: A Pilot Study Using a Full-Scale Patient Simulator
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Objective. Many studies (outcome, epidemiological) have tested the hypothesis that pulse oximetry and capnography affect the outcome of anesthetic care. Uncontrollable variables in clinical studies make it difficult to generate statistically conclusive data. In the present study, we eliminated the variability among patients and operative procedures by using a full-scale patient simulator. We tested the hypothesis that pulse oximetry and capnography shorten the time to diagnosis of critical incidents. Methods. A simulator was programmed to represent a patient undergoing medullary nailing of a fractured femur under general anesthesia and suffering either malignant hyperthermia, a pneumothorax, a pulmonary embolism or an anoxic oxygen supply. One hundred thirteen anesthesiologists were randomly assigned to one of two groups of equal size, one with access to pulse oximetry and capnography data and the other without. Each anesthesiologist was further randomized to one of the four critical incidents. Each anesthetic procedure was videotaped. The time to correct diagnosis was measured and analyzed. Results. Based on analysis of 91 of the subjects, time to diagnosis was significantly shorter (median of 432 s vs. >480 s) for the anoxic oxygen supply scenario (p = 0.019) with pulse oximetry and capnography than without. No statistical difference in time to diagnosis was obtained between groups for the other three critical incidents. Conclusions. Simulation may offer new approaches to the study of monitoring technology. However, the limitations of current simulators and the resources required to perform simulator-based research are impediments to wide-spread use of this tool.
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