Capnography for Critical Care Nurses

Dr. Thomas Ahrens

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Lecture overview

Capnography has the unique ability to aid clinicians in assessing both ventilation and blood flow. In this program, a review of the physiology that allows exhaled CO2 to monitor ventilation and perfusion is presented. The emphasis in this program is using capnography to prevent over-sedation and monitoring of blood flow. Due to the ability to assess both ventilation and perfusion, capnography has been called the “15 second vital sign”. The use of capnography is likely to quickly grow throughout the hospital and even into pre hospital settings. 

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this lecture, the attendee will be able to:

  1. Recall the relationship between PaCO2 and PetCO2 levels.
  2. Discuss how the reason why capnography is a rapid assessment of inadequate ventilation and perfusion.
  3. Discuss how capnography can reflect a patient at risk for over-sedation.
  4. Describe the 4 key applications of capnography in patient monitoring.

This lecture is equal to 1 CE Contact Hour, 1 CPD Point, and 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit



Additional CME Info

Release Date: February 1, 2020, Termination Date: January 31, 2023

Accreditation: This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of EB Medicine and Continulus. EB Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation: EB Medicine designates this internet enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ per lecture. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

Commercial Support: This activity received no commercial support.

Earning Credit: In order to earn CME credit, the participant must take the pre-test, listen to the lecture, take the CME post-test, and complete the post-test evaluation.

Duration 1 hour(s).

Lecture speaker

Dr. Thomas Ahrens

Dr. Thomas Ahrens is an American nurse, researcher, and educator at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, specialising in Critical Care Nursing. Dr. Ahrens has more than 25 years of experience as a critical care nurse and is the author of five books, more than 100 papers, and more than 40 scientific publications. His book "Essentials of Oxygenation" received the Book of the Year Award from the American Journal of Nursing. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, which named him one of its first Edge Runners in 2006; the award recognises innovations resulting in better care for patients, families, and community. In 2008 he received the "Flame of Excellence Award" from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. This award recognises sustained contributions of excellence in acute and critical care nursing. 

Dr Ahrens is also a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Health and formerly served on the board of directors for AACN. He is a recognised authority in sepsis and has given numerous lectures around the country on this subject.

In 1999, Dr. Ahrens co-founded the company "ICU-USA, Inc". The company operates a website that provides educational information to hospital staff and medical information to patients and families; in particular those in ICU. The website has been endorsed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and has been named "The Official Patient and Family Website of the Society of Critical Care Medicine" by the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

To find out more visit:

CME Faculty Disclosure: It is the policy of EB Medicine to ensure objectivity, balance, independence, transparency, and scientific rigor in all CME-sponsored educational activities. All faculty participating in the planning or implementation of a sponsored activity are expected to disclose to the audience any relevant financial relationships and to assist in resolving any conflict of interest that may arise from the relationship. In compliance with all ACCME Essentials, Standards, and Guidelines, all faculty for this CME activity were asked to complete a full disclosure statement. The speaker did not report any relevant financial interest or other relationship with the manufacturer(s) of any commercial product(s) discussed in this educational presentation.