7 ways to best use, or avoid, capnography in the field


We asked for suggestions of how to best use capnography beyond its initial purpose, and EMS1 readers responded with some great advice.Take a look at our favorite comments, and please, add your own!

“It’s great for making the distinction between COPD and CHF. No more hoping the breathing tx doesn’t wind up drowning your patient.” — Mike Hasty

“Capnography has also been shown to be able to detect seizures before it happens as well as an asthma attack. It’s a fantastic tool to help in patient assessment.” — Glen Roesch

“Titrating Narcan on OD patients. Just enough to improve ventilation without ruining their high and ending up with a combative patient.” — Annemari Cooley

“Perfusion levels in a trauma patient, decreasing etco2 could mean worsening shock, using it on a chemically sedated patient could identify respiratory arrest before you would ever see it on the pulse ox. Visually watching respirations often results in incorrect numbers.” — Matt West

“Definitely great for ROSC.” — Steven Criswell

“Bronchi constriction bronchi spasm with respiratory patients.” — Heather Wilson

“I think the question be when is capnography not a good tool. I think it is looked over as a great assessment tool too much and too often. Respiratory, unconscious, trauma, arrest, altered mental status etc. More of a why not use it to a why use it.” — Brad Baker 

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