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Pulse Oximetry May Be Overused in Infants With Bronchiolitis

Routine use of continuous pulse oximetry not advised for infants who do not require supplemental oxygen

MONDAY, April 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Use of monitoring with continuous pulse oximetry for infants with bronchiolitis who do not require supplemental oxygen varies widely by hospital, according to a study published in the April 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Christopher P. Bonafide, M.D., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues used data from 3,612 patients (aged 8 weeks through 23 months) with bronchiolitis treated in pediatric wards in 56 U.S. and Canadian hospitals participating in the Pediatric Research in Inpatient Settings Network (Dec. 1, 2018, through March 31, 2019).

The researchers found the overall rate of continuous pulse oximetry monitoring use was 46 percent in these patients (none of whom were receiving any supplemental oxygen or nasal cannula flow). At the hospital level, unadjusted continuous pulse oximetry use ranged from 2 to 92 percent, but ranged from 6 to 82 percent when standardizing for risk. More than one-quarter of this difference (27 percent) was attributable to unmeasured hospital-level factors.

“Because of the apparent absence of a guideline- or evidence-based indication for continuous monitoring in this population, this practice may represent overuse,” the authors write.

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