Aims and objectives. To evaluate pulse oximetry knowledge of nurses employed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Anesthesiology Department (AD) and Emergency Department (ED) and to compare knowledge among these departments/units.
Background. Although pulse oximetry has been widely used in clinical practice, previous studies have reported knowledge deficits among nurses, which may adversely affect patient outcomes.
Design. Prospective, cross-sectional, multicentre study.
Methods. All nurses employed in the ICU, AD and ED of six hospitals were asked to complete in private a 21-item, knowledge-evaluating questionnaire, which was evaluated for content-related validity and reliability.
Results. Two hundred and seven questionnaires were completed (a response rate of 74·5%). Mean pulse oximetry knowledge score was 12·8 ± 3·2, with ICU nurses having significantly higher scores than ED nurses (p = 0·001) and those with more than 10 years of experience having significantly higher scores than less experienced ones (p = 0·015). Correct responses did not exceed 50% for six questionnaire items, five of which covered principles of pulse oximetry function. ICU nurses had significantly more correct responses in five items compared to ED nurses, and in two of them compared to AD nurses.
Conclusions. Longer professional experience and being employed in the ICU were associated with higher pulse oximetry knowledge of Greek nurses. Considering knowledge deficits and differences among nurses, pulse oximetry knowledge seems to mainly develop through clinical experience.
Relevance to clinical practice. These findings highlight the need for pregraduate education to follow clinical advances, and especially for the implementation of high-quality, continuing education programmes to provide systematic learning and support professional development of nurses.