Q In routine hemodynamic monitoring with a pulmonary artery catheter in a stable critical care patient, how often should the pulmonary artery wedge pressure be assessed? Any information you could provide related to Swan-Ganz monitoring would be greatly appreciated.

A Jan M. Headley, RN, BS, replies:

Clinical use of the pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) may depend on the functionality of the catheter itself. All catheters can be used to obtain and monitor intracardiac and pulmonary artery pressures, provide intermittent or continuous thermodilution cardiac output values, and either to obtain intermittent mixed venous samples from the distal lumen or, if fiber optics are housed in the catheter, to monitor venous oxygen saturation continuously. These parameters are used in diagnosis, selection of therapy, and assessment of the response to interventions.

The frequency with which hemodynamic values are obtained from the PAC is determined by the patient’s condition and any standards or protocols...

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