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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 3 (1996), Issue 1, Pages 47-51
Original Article

Bedside Pulse Oximeters with a Clinical Algorithm Make Economic Sense in the Intensive Care Unit

David J Leasa and Jacqueline M Walker

The Program in Critical Care, Division of Respirology, and University Hospital, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect on arterial blood gas (ABG) and hospital resource use by introducing a strategy of using bedside oximeters with a clinical algorithm, based on the argument that bedside pulse oximeters make economic sense in the intensive care unit (ICU) if safe patient oxygenation can be ensured at a lower cost than that of existing monitoring options.

DESIGN: A before and after design was used to examine the consequences of a pulse oximeter at each bedside in the ICU along with a pulse oximeter clinical algorithm (POCA) describing use for titrating oxygen therapy and for performing ABG analysis.

SETTING: A 19-bed multidisciplinary ICU with a six-bed extended ICU (EICU) available to function as a 'step-down' facility.

PATIENTS: All patients admitted to the ICU/EICU over two 12-month periods were included.

RESULTS: The strategy yielded a 31% reduction in the mean number of ABGs per patient after POCA (20.0±26.1 versus 13.8±16.7, mean ± SD; P<0.001) as well as a potential annual cost savings of $32,831.

CONCLUSIONS: Bedside oximeters within the ICU, when used with explicit guidelines, reduce ABG use and result in hospital cost savings.