Adding Pulse Oximetry Shows No Benefit in COVID-19

No improvement observed in patients using pulse oximetry added to standard monitoring

Senior man using a pulse oximeter on finger to test blood oxygen level
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WEDNESDAY, April 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- The addition of home pulse oximetry to remote monitoring does not improve the number of days alive and out of the hospital among patients with COVID-19, according to a research letter published online April 6 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kathleen C. Lee, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues randomly assigned patients to a standard monitoring program (text message-based remote monitoring) in addition to home pulse oximetry or the standard program alone from Nov. 29, 2020, to Feb. 5, 2021. The pulse oximetry group was provided with a pulse oximeter and monitored for subjective symptoms or a low or declining oxygen saturation. Overall, 1,041 patients (606 with confirmed COVID-19) were assigned to the standard program group and 1,056 (611 with confirmed COVID-19) were assigned to the pulse oximetry group.

The researchers observed no significant between-group difference among patients with confirmed COVID-19 in the number of days they were alive and out of the hospital at 30 days (mean, 29.4 and 29.5 days for those in the pulse oximetry and standard program groups, respectively). No significant difference was seen in a prespecified subgroup analysis powered to detect a difference in the number of days patients were alive and out of the hospital among Black patients versus non-Hispanic White patients.

"Among patients with COVID-19, the addition of home pulse oximetry to remote monitoring did not result in a greater number of days alive and out of the hospital than subjective assessments of dyspnea alone," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to various medical companies.

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