EMS1 Poll Results: How do you use capnography?

We asked EMS1 readers to share their knowledge and use of capnography during patient care


Share how you use capnography in 2016 by answering a short EMS1 Poll on capnography

Capnography is widely available to EMS providers for patient assessment and monitoring. We asked EMS1 readers to share their knowledge and use of capnography.

These are the results of our capnography poll call:

What is your level of certification?

Three-quarters of poll respondents were paramedics. Surprisingly, 16 percent of respondents were EMTs. Application of an EtCO2 sampling device and waveform monitoring, especially during bag-valve mask ventilation, is well within the capability of EMTs.

Are EMTs able to use capnography in your system?

Capnography is part of your assessment and treatment for which type of patient presentation:

Capnography utilization, in our survey, is highest for patients in cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest or failure. Capnography is an outstanding tool for breath-to-breath respiratory effort and patient perfusion. The poll reveals an opportunity for increased use of capnography for known or suspected septic patients, as well as patients with traumatic injury.

Capnography monitoring equipment is easy to apply.

Ninety-five percent of respondents strongly agree or agree that capnography is easy to use. Remember capnography can be used for detecting airway loss and much more. If your system has not implemented capnography follow these 10 steps to make it part of your standard of care.

The capnography waveform is easy to interpret.

Waveform interpretation is easy for 85 percent of our survey respondents. Only two percent find it difficult to interpret. To learn more about waveform interpretation visit the CapnoAcademy.  

Capnography is an important monitoring tool.

Strong agreement that capnography is an important tool for monitoring patients with a respiratory complaint or patients in cardiac arrest likely reflects a group of respondents that is familiar with capnography, find it easy to use, and apply it often.

Ninety-one percent of respondents strongly agree or agree that capnography is important for monitoring patients with a respiratory complaint.

Even more respondents, 97 percent, strongly agree or agree that capnography is an important monitoring tool for patients in cardiac arrest.

Capnography is the most effective method for confirmation of airway placement.

Since the 2010 AHA ECC and CPR guidelines, continuous waveform capnography has been recommended as the most reliable method for airway confirmation. With that in mind it is somewhat surprising that among our respondent pool of mostly paramedics, who regularly use capnography and find it easy to use, only 56 percent had strong agreement with the statement about capnography effectiveness for airway monitoring.

Capnography provides useful patient monitoring information for a spontaneously breathing patient.

One of the common misconceptions about capnography is that it is only for patients being ventilated through an endotracheal tube. This is not the case. Many types of patients, including those that are spontaneously breathing, can be monitored with capnography.  

How many hours of capnography related training (self-study, classroom, simulation, online article, video, or other) have you completed in the last 12 months?

The bell-curve distribution of responses regarding capnography training likely reflects the composition of the survey respondents. It is likely that the 25 percent of responders who identified as an MFR, EMT, or AEMT have completed less capnography training than the paramedic respondents. An impressive 11 percent of respondents have completed 10 or more hours of capnography-related training in the last 12 months.

Additional questions and comments

What do you make of the results? How do you use capnography? Share your ideas and best practices in the comments.

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