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Blood oxygen measurement overuse leads to over-treatment? August 19, 2017

Posted by drolarn in Uncategorized.
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“Pulse oximetry as a technology represents a major and significant advance in medicine.… However, its increasing and widespread use in stable infants and young children with bronchiolitis, a self limited disease with a generally benign course, has led to technology driven overdiagnosis of hypoxaemia — fueling uncertainty, increased use of resources, and patient harm,” write Ricardo Quinonez, MD, from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and colleagues.

Babies and young children suffering from bronchiolitis are commonly made to stay in hospital because their blood oxygen as measured by the oximetry machine is lower than an arbitrary threshold that varies from one doctor to another, in spite of the fact that the child may be coping very well with his/her illness. In some cases parents are told that inhalational treatment is necessary and cannot be administered at home therefore hospital stay is necessary, and this in spite of the lack of evidence that such treatment improves outcome.

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