Improving Pulse Oximetry Pitch Perception with Multisensory Perceptual Training

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The pulse oximeter is a critical monitor in anesthesia practice designed to improve patient safety. Here, we present an approach to improve the ability of anesthesiologists to monitor arterial oxygen saturation via pulse oximetry through an audiovisual training process. Fifteen residents’ abilities to detect auditory changes in pulse oximetry were measured before and after perceptual training. Training resulted in a 9% (95% confidence interval, 4%–14%, P = 0.0004, t166 = 3.60) increase in detection accuracy, and a 72-millisecond (95% confidence interval, 40–103 milliseconds, P < 0.0001, t166 = −4.52) speeding of response times in attentionally demanding and noisy conditions that were designed to simulate an operating room. This study illustrates the benefits of multisensory training and sets the stage for further work to better define the role of perceptual training in clinical anesthesiology.

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