Document Detail

How well can anaesthetists discriminate pulse oximeter tones?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16119492     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The ability of experienced anaesthetists to discern oxygen saturation by listening to the tones of a Datex AS3 pulse oximeter was examined. Five-second samples were recorded using a high fidelity patient simulator and replayed singly and in pairs. Whilst the lower saturations were generally recognized as lower, the perceived range was greatly compressed. Median perceived estimates for 70% saturation was 89%, for 80% was 93% and for 94% was 94%. When comparing pairs of samples, the direction of the difference was correctly discerned by 70% of anaesthetists for differences of 2%, rising to 95% for differences of greater than 8% oxygen saturation. The magnitude of the difference was consistently underestimated. With an actual difference of 20%, the median estimate was 5%. The results indicate that while qualitative estimate changes in oxygen saturation are moderately reliable, quantitative estimation is severely limited by a compromised perceived scale. This may lead to underestimation of the severity if the auditory signal is relied on in isolation. A non-linear (musical) scale may prove more appropriate and should be investigated. Testing experienced anaesthetists demonstrated that most could detect the direction, but not the magnitude of a change in saturation by listening to the change in pitch of a Datex AS3 pulse oximeter tone.
R W Morris; P J Mohacsi
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Anaesthesia and intensive care     Volume:  33     ISSN:  0310-057X     ISO Abbreviation:  Anaesth Intensive Care     Publication Date:  2005 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2005-08-25     Completed Date:  2006-02-03     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0342017     Medline TA:  Anaesth Intensive Care     Country:  Australia    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  497-500     Citation Subset:  IM    
Sydney Medical Simulation Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital and The University of Sydney, New South Wales.
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MeSH Terms
Middle Aged
Oximetry / instrumentation*
Oxygen / blood
Pitch Discrimination / physiology*
Reg. No./Substance:

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