Effectiveness of enhanced pulse oximetry sonifications for conveying oxygen saturation ranges: A laboratory comparison of five auditory displays

E. Paterson, P. M. Sanderson, N. A.B. Paterson, R. G. Loeb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Anaesthetists monitor auditory information about a patient's vital signs in an environment that can be noisy and while performing other cognitively demanding tasks. It can be difficult to identify oxygen saturation (SpO2) values using existing pulse oximeter auditory displays (sonifications). Methods In a laboratory setting, we compared the ability of non-clinician participants to detect transitions into and out of an SpO2 target range using five different sonifications while they performed a secondary distractor arithmetic task in the presence of background noise. The control sonification was based on the auditory display of current pulse oximeters and comprised a variable pitch with an alarm. The four experimental conditions included an Alarm Only condition, a Variable pitch only condition, and two conditions using sonifications enhanced with additional sound dimensions. Accuracy to detect SpO2 target transitions was the primary outcome. Results We found that participants using the two sonifications enhanced with the additional sound dimensions of tremolo and brightness were significantly more accurate (83 and 96%, respectively) at detecting transitions to and from a target SpO2 range than participants using a pitch only sonification plus alarms (57%) as implemented in current pulse oximeters. Conclusions Enhanced sonifications are more informative than conventional sonification. The implication is that they might allow anaesthetists to judge better when desaturation decreases below, or returns to, a target range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1224-1230
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Volume119
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Keywords

  • auditory perception
  • data display
  • patient monitoring
  • pulse oximetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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