Implementing Capnography in the PACU and Beyond

J Perianesth Nurs. 2016 Oct;31(5):392-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jopan.2014.06.007. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


The potential risk of adverse effects from hypoventilation due to intravenous and/or intrathecal narcotic administration was recognized. Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital and Clinics understood the limitations with the use of pulse oximetry and respiratory assessment in detecting adequate ventilation. Evidence has shown that capnography is the best indicator of respiratory depression. This article describes the implementation of monitoring program for high risk patients. Early recognition of respiratory depression via capnography has enabled Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital to safely care for patients having intravenous and intrathecal narcotics.

Keywords: ETCO(2); PACU; PCA; best practice; capnography; intrathecal narcotic.

MeSH terms

  • Capnography*
  • Humans
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage
  • Postanesthesia Nursing*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology


  • Narcotics