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Doctors misread pulse monitor
About the author: 
WDDTY Team

Most doctors and nurses do not know how a vital monitoring device works although they may use it almost on a daily basis and so make serious errors when interpreting readings

Most doctors and nurses do not know how a vital monitoring device works although they may use it almost on a daily basis and so make serious errors when interpreting readings.

Junior doctors and nurses at a hospital in Exeter, England were tested on the use and reading of the pulse oximeter, a vital instrument for monitoring patients recovering from anesthesia, and one that can detect a life threatening situation.

However, 97 per cent of them did not understand how to properly use the instrument, and only one had received any training. There were serious errors made in evaluating readings.

In one case, doctors were "not particularly concerned" by one reading that in fact indicated that a patient was seriously ill, and needed immediate attention if he was to live.

The study, led by Dr Mark Stoneham, stressed that all medical staff need training on the pulse oximeter.


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