Objectives: To assess the knowledge and understanding of the use of the pulmonary artery catheter and interpretation of data derived from it in a group of nurses attending the American Association of Critical Care Nurses' National Teaching Institute conference.
Design: A 37-question multiple choice examination that tested knowledge regarding the use of the pulmonary artery catheter was administered to a group of nurses, attending a national conference, who preregistered for a hemodynamics workshop.
Setting: American Association of Critical Care Nurses' National Teaching Institute Conference, New Orleans, LA, May 1992.
Measurements and main results: Two-hundred sixteen nurses completed the questionnaire. The mean test score was 16.5 +/- 5.7 (SD) (48.5%). Test scores were significantly associated with years of experience in critical care, critical care registered nurse certification, responsibility for repositioning and manipulating the catheter, frequency of use, and self-assessed adequacy of knowledge.
Conclusions: A wide variation in the understanding of the use of the pulmonary artery catheter exists among nurses using this device in the care of seriously ill patients. The results indicate that current teaching practices regarding the pulmonary artery catheter need to be reevaluated and specific credentialing policies need to be considered.