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Graphical Arterial Blood Gas Visualization Tool Supports Rapid and Accurate Data Interpretation


CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/NCN.0b013e31821ef636
Feature Articles

A visualization tool that integrates numeric information from an arterial blood gas report with novel graphics was designed for the purpose of promoting rapid and accurate interpretation of acid-base data. A study compared data interpretation performance when arterial blood gas results were presented in a traditional numerical list versus the graphical visualization tool. Critical-care nurses (n = 15) and nursing students (n = 15) were significantly more accurate identifying acid-base states and assessing trends in acid-base data when using the graphical visualization tool. Critical-care nurses and nursing students using traditional numerical data had an average accuracy of 69% and 74%, respectively. Using the visualization tool, average accuracy improved to 83% for critical-care nurses and 93% for nursing students. Analysis of response times demonstrated that the visualization tool might help nurses overcome the "speed/accuracy trade-off" during high-stress situations when rapid decisions must be rendered. Perceived mental workload was significantly reduced for nursing students when they used the graphical visualization tool. In this study, the effects of implementing the graphical visualization were greater for nursing students than for critical-care nurses, which may indicate that the experienced nurses needed more training and use of the new technology prior to testing to show similar gains. Results of the objective and subjective evaluations support the integration of this graphical visualization tool into clinical environments that require accurate and timely interpretation of arterial blood gas data.

Author Information

Author Affiliations: College of Nursing, University of Utah (Dr Doig); Applied Medical Visualizations (Mr Albert, Mr Syroid, and Mr Agutter); and Department of Anesthesiology, University of Utah (Mr Syroid), Salt Lake City; General Dynamics C4 Systems | Viz (Mr Moon) Pittsburgh, PA; College of Architecture + Planning, University of Utah, Salt Lake City (Mr Agutter), UT.

Reprinted from Doig AK, Albert RW, Syroid ND, Moon S, Agutter JA. Graphical arterial blood gas visualization tool supports rapid and accurate data interpretation. Comput Inform Nurs. 2011;29(4):204-211. DOI: 10.1097/NCN.0b013e3181fc4041.

This research was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health (1 R43 HL79783-01 A2).

Corresponding author: Alexa K. Doig, PhD, RN, University of Utah, 10 South 2000 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112 (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.