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Advanced Pulmonary Assessment Use of Capnography and Oximetry: Beyond the Basics


Tom Ahrens, PhD, RN, FAAN

Founder, Viven Health, Inc.


 Michael H. Ackerman DNS, RN, CENP, FCCM, FNAP, FAANP

Professor of Clinical Nursing

The Ohio State University




Capnography has the unique ability to aid clinicians in assessing both ventilation and blood flow.  Oximetry can identify threats to pulmonary function.  In this webinar, a review of the physiology that allows PetCO2 and SpO2 to monitor ventilation, perfusion and lung function is presented.  The emphasis in this webinar is using capnography to prevent over-sedation and monitoring of blood flow, while oximetry is used to warn of impending respiratory dysfunction. The use of these two technologies can be argued to be the most important vital signs available to the nurse and respiratory therapist.  


Learning Objectives:

After this activity, the participant will be able to:

  1. Discuss how capnography can reflect a patient at risk for over-sedation

  2. Discuss how the reason why capnography is a rapid assessment of inadequate ventilation and perfusion

  3. Describe how oximetry (pulse) is able to identify threats to pulmonary function

  4. Describe how SpO2 can be used in COVID patients

Faculty Bio

Tom Ahrens, PhD, RN, FAAN is a Research Scientist at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Ahrens has more than 25 years of experience as a critical care nurse, and is the author of five books, more than 100 papers, and more than 40 scientific publications. His book Essentials of Oxygenation received the Book of the Year Award from the American Journal of Nursing. He is also a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and formerly served on the board of directors for AACN. He is a recognized authority in sepsis and has given numerous lectures around the country on the subject. Dr. Ahrens is a Fellow of the AAN which named him one of its first Edge Runners in 2006; the award recognizes innovations resulting in better care for patients, families, and the community.


Michael Ackerman, DNS, RN, FAAN is currently the Director of the Master in Healthcare Innovation Program and Professor of Clinical Nursing at The Ohio State University. He has over 50 publications as well as several funded studies.  In addition, he has held leadership roles in a number of academic settings.  Mike has a passion for critical care nursing as well as innovation. This is evident in his much sought-after presentations on a variety of critical care topics in critical care.  He also has a passion for the “Crucial Conversations” program which he has implemented in two of his recent institutions.  This implementation has been a catalyst in much of Mike’s work in the area of culture change.  Mike is a disruptive innovator, a skilled clinician, avid researcher, motivational speaker and caring leader.  

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