Pulse Oximetry Training Video Produced by Rafael Ortega Published in NEJM

A pulse oximetry training video produced by Rafael Ortega, MD, professor of anesthesiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and vice-chair of academic affairs for the department of anesthesiology at Boston Medical Center (BMC),  and his colleagues is featured in the New England Journal of Medicine. It provides best practices for physicians utilizing pulse oximetry.

Rafael Ortega
Rafael Ortega

Pulse oximeters are small, non-invasive sensors placed on a patient’s finger or ear to monitor their blood oxygen levels. As the current standard of care used in operating rooms, intensive care units and hospital wards worldwide, pulse oximeters continuously monitor the patient’s oxygen blood levels and sound an alert when abnormal values are detected.

“While pulse oximetry is widely used, there are many concepts included in the training video that would help nurses and physicians understand how best to utilize the technology and keep patients as safe as possible,” said Ortega.

The training video filmed at BMC features volunteer patients, BUSM medical students and BMC physicians in real and simulated conditions where pulse oximetry would be used. The NEJM also created digital illustrations and graphic animations for the video. Developed for practicing physicians, it provides detailed information on the principles of pulse oximetry and instructions on how to best interpret the information derived to ensure patient safety.

“Training videos published in academic journals offer a greater number of health care practitioners access to significant clinical practice tools,” said Ortega, who also received a Letter of Commendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) for another pulse oximetry training video this past March.

The publication date for this video coincides with the recent passing of Ellison Pierce, MD, an anesthesiologist who is responsible for the widespread acceptance of pulse oximetry. “His legacy represents one of the pivotal chapters in the history of anesthesiology and Dr. Pierce is arguably one of the most influential anesthesiologists of modern times. Every day, we administer anesthetics and take care of patients following the safety concepts he promulgated,” said Ortega.

This video was done in collaboration with BUSM Graduate Medical School (GMS) students, medical students and members of the department of anesthesia at BMC, including Christopher J. Hansen, MA, and Albert Woo, MD. Kelly Elterman, MD, a former internal medicine intern at BMC, also worked on the project.

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