Capnography standards for outside the operating room

David K Whitaker, Jonathan P Benson
Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology 2016, 29 (4): 485-92

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Standards for capnography inside operating theatres in high and middle-income countries are well recognized and implemented. This review examines recent standards and recommendations for the use of capnography outside the operating room and their rationale and development.

RECENT FINDINGS: The landmark publication of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and Difficult Airway Society's National Audit Project 4 report provided compelling evidence of airway deaths and a significant patient harm occurring outside the operating room, particularly in ICUs and to a lesser extent in emergency departments. Up to 74% of these ICU deaths could have been prevented by capnography. This provided a serious wake up call for relevant clinicians. As a result, there have recently been new standards published for the use of capnography in these and other areas of the hospital. Waveform capnography can also reflect cardiac output, as the 2015 resuscitation guidelines emphasized. Work still needs to be done on implementing all of these new standards.

SUMMARY: Established standards for using capnography within the operating theatre have significantly improved patient safety and it is hoped that the recent publication of new but similar capnography standards for application outside the operating theatre will do the same there. The reasons for the current low levels of implementation of some of these standards outside the operating room are worthy of further research.

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