Oxygen FAQ

Up to date, expert answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about oxygen supply systems, respiratory care and pulse oximetry written by OCC & collaborators.

What is the role of pulse oximetry in COVID-19?

Pulse oximetry plays a key role in the diagnosis, triage and management of COVID-19 patients. This includes when to initiate hospitalization or oxygen therapy and when to escalate or deescalate oxygen therapy. This can be an essential tool for conserving oxygen supply as well. 

Hypoxemia is a key finding in many patients with COVID-19. Up to 80% of patients with COVID-19 may have only mild symptoms or be completely asymptomatic. Common initial symptoms of COVID-19 infection include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, and myalgias. About 15% of infected patients develop severe disease, and about 5% develop critical illness – these patients may require supplemental oxygen. It has been reported that many patients with COVID-19 have more significant hypoxemia than their symptoms might suggest, which has been referred to as “happy” or “silent”  hypoxia. Therefore, it is essential to check SpO2 for all patients with known or suspected COVID-19 infection who are symptomatic or report for medical evaluation.  

References: Lifebox Pulse Oximetry Learning Module

Keywords: COVID-19, symptomatic, shortness of breath, SOB, coronavirus, oxygen

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