Design and evaluation of a new auditory display for the pulse oximeter
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information about a patient's oxygen saturation (SpO2) and heart rate via visual and auditory displays. An audible tone is emitted after every detected pulse (indicating heart rate), and the pitch of the tone is mapped to SpO2. However, clinicians cannot reliably judge SpO2 using only the current auditory display. In a series of three studies, we compared auditory displays based on current pulse oximeters with displays designed to provide more information about SpO2 levels using additional acoustic properties. Results from the first two laboratory studies show that the new auditory displays support better identification of specified ranges of SpO2, and better detection of when saturation transitions a critically relevant threshold. The analysis of a third study in a highfidelity simulator is currently under way. An auditory display that provides more information about SpO2 levels and when SpO2 changes from one range to another may be useful for clinicians when they are engaged in other visually demanding tasks but have to detect and treat patient deterioration, often in time-pressured and stressful situations.