Background Pulse oximetry is a frequently used, noninvasive monitoring tool for assessing arterial blood oxygenation. Physicians, registered nurses, and respiratory therapists are responsible for the accurate interpretation of pulse oximetry data as part of the evaluation and management of acutely and critically ill patients.

Objectives (1) To evaluate the extent of current knowledge about pulse oximetry and (2) to increase clinicians’ knowledge of research-based practices related to the appropriate use of pulse oximetry and interpretation of its results.

Methods A test/survey of 17 true-false questions based on the research-based practice protocol of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses was developed to evaluate current knowledge of pulse oximetry. A convenience sample of medical, nursing, and respiratory therapy staff was invited to complete the test/survey before and several months after an educational program to improve staff members’ knowledge of pulse oximetry. The program included educational forums, policy changes, competency checklists, and verification of inclusion of research-based principles in orientation programs.

Results A total of 442 staff members completed the test/survey given before the educational program: 331 nurses, 82 physicians, and 29 respiratory therapists. The overall mean percentage of correct answers was 66%. Differences between disciplines were significant: respiratory therapists scored slightly higher (76%) than did nurses (64%) and physicians (66%) (P = .01). The scores on the test/survey given after the educational program increased significantly, from 66% to 82% (P < .01).

Conclusions This educational project improved staff members’ knowledge of pulse oximetry monitoring.

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