BACKGROUND: Pulse oximetry monitoring is included in the WHO Safe Surgery Checklist and recognized as an essential perioperative safety monitoring device. However, many low resource countries do not have adequate numbers of pulse oximeters available or healthcare workers trained in their use. Lifebox, a nonprofit organization focused on improving anesthetic and surgical safety, has procured and distributed pulse oximeters and relevant educational training in over 100 countries. We aimed to understand qualitatively how pulse oximetry provision and training affected a group of Zambian non-physician anesthetists' perioperative care and what, if any, capacity gaps remain.METHODS: We identified and approached non-physician anesthetists (NPAPs) in Zambia who attended a 2019 Lifebox pulse oximetry training course to participate in a semi-structured interview. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Codes were iteratively derived; the codebook was tested for inter-rater reliability (pooled kappa>0.70). Team-based thematic analysis identified emergent themes on pulse oximetry training and perioperative patient care.RESULTS: Ten of the 35 attendees were interviewed. Two themes emerged concerning pulse oximetry provision and training in discussion with non-physician anesthetists about their experience after training: (1) Impact on Non-Physician Anesthetists and the Healthcare Team and (2) Impact on Perioperative Patient Monitoring. These broad themes were further explored through subthemes. Increased knowledge brought confidence in monitoring and facilitated quick interventions. NPAPs reported improved preoperative assessments and reaffirmed the necessity of having pulse oximetry intraoperatively. However, lack of device availability led to case delays or cancellations. A portable device travelling with the patient to the recovery ward was noted as a major improvement in postoperative care. Pulse oximeters also improved communication between nurses and NPAPs, giving NPAPs confidence in the recovery process. However, this was not always possible, as lack of pulse oximeters and ward staff unfamiliarity with oximetry was commonly reported. NPAPs expressed that wider pulse oximetry availability and training would be beneficial.CONCLUSION: Among a cohort of non-physician anesthetists in Zambia, the provision of pulse oximeters and training was perceived to improve patient care throughout the perioperative timeline. However, capacity and resource gaps remain in their practice settings, especially during transfers of care. NPAPs identified a number of areas where patient care and safety could be improved, including expanding access to pulse oximetry training and provision to ward and nursing staff to ensure the entire healthcare team is aware of the benefits and importance of its use.
View details for DOI 10.1186/s12913-022-08698-5
View details for PubMedID 36419106