Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 8-5-1965


The problem of the study was to ascertain whether or not a selected group of professional nurses used scientific discrimination in the process of identifying overt signs and symptoms of anoxia upon which they then made the judgment to administer oxygen from a p.r.n. order. The purposes of the study were: (l) to identify the signs and symptoms of anoxia which are based on scientific, physiological principles; (2) to ascertain what overt signs and symptoms professional nurses used in making a decision to administer oxygen from a p.r.n. order; (3) to determine if certain systemic categories of signs and symptoms were recognized more frequently than others; and (4) to ascertain whether or not professional nurses used a scientific rationale in making a decision to give oxygen therapy. A review of scientific and nursing literature was made in order to gain an understanding of the physiology of anoxia, its signs and symptoms, and the indications for oxygen therapy. The review of the nursing literature revealed that the description of the physiology of anoxia and its signs and symptoms was far from inclusive. Instead, the emphasis was on the methods and procedures for the administration of oxygen therapy. Yet when a medical order for oxygen therapy on a p.r.n. basis has been written, professional nurses must assume the responsibility for a decision as to whether or not oxygen therapy is indicated. The population of the study consisted of 100 professional nurses currently employed on the medical, surgical, pediatric, and intensive care units of a general hospital. This hospital was connected with a University Medical Center in the Rocky Mountain area. The descriptive survey method with the check list as the data gathering technique was used in this study. Categorization and tabulation was the method of analysis. On the basis of the data obtained in this study the following major conclusions were drawn: (l) since only two well-known and advanced overt signs and symptoms (dyspnea and cyanosis) were identified with consistency by the respondents, this group of professional nurses was not aware of the many overt signs and symptoms of anoxia in which oxygen therapy might be of benefit; and (2) with the possible exception of those overt signs and symptoms of anoxia related to the circulatory system, their use of scientific discrimination was not evident.