Evaluating the Effectiveness of End-Tidal Carbon Dioxide Monitoring During Burn Wound Care in the Nonintubated Patient Population

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Daily burn wound care for nonintubated patients involves administration of intravenous analgesic and sedation agents. Vital signs and oxygen saturation monitoring alone can result in late signs of oversedation and ineffective breathing. End-tidal carbon dioxide (EtCo2) monitoring provides immediate feedback of effective breathing during procedural sedation. The purpose of this study was to describe the nurse’s sedation and analgesic therapy management of nonintubated patients during burn wound care when EtCo2 was used. This IRB approved study involved observing 22 burn nurses and 4 burn technicians during burn wound care of nonintubated patients. This descriptive, observational study compared adverse breathing/airway events, pain measurements, and sedation effectiveness, before and after introducing EtCo2 monitoring. Patients observed in this study were similar in age, type and size of burn, and use of recreational substances. Nurses and technicians also had similar burn experience. No statistically significant findings were found in this study; however, nurses in practice longer were found to apply oxygen sooner, which prevented decreased oxygen saturation events. When EtCo2 was used, less analgesia and sedation were required to maintain patient comfort. Time required for burn wound care was reduced by 22%, and 30% less overall analgesic and sedation agent dosages were administered after the introduction of EtCo2 monitoring. EtCo2 was found to enhance nurses’ assessment of patients’ response to intravenous analgesia and sedation effectiveness during burn wound care for nonintubated patients. Nurses with greater experience used oxygen sooner in the procedure, and patients had fewer decreases in SpO2.

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