According to the latest studies conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund or UNICEF, more or less 6 million kids ages five and below died in 2015 alone. In low-income and developing countries, the mortality rate in kids or early childhood is dominated by sepsis, pneumonia or prematurity – diseases that usually result in hypoxemic respiratory arrest.
Since the introduction of pulse oximetry into the medical practice in the early 80s, it has been used in high-income or developed countries. It is starting to get popular in the management and diagnosis of childhood diseases, in middle to low-resource settings.
To know more about hypoxic respiratory arrest, visit https://www.healthline.com/health/acute-respiratory-failure for more information.
There is an inherent appeal of point-of-care medical devices like the pulse oximeter to help detect hypoxemia, especially in first-level health facilities staffed by health care providers with little experience and training. But it is an excellent way to examine all the evidence when it comes to the use of a pulse oximeter in clinical management, as well as in the effects on outcomes, especially in cases of childhood pneumonia.
In this article, we will evaluate the underlying evidence that the pulse oximeter can make a big difference in child management. At least five researches met the criteria for involvement in its systematic review, all before or after studies.
Only one of these researches was conducted in low-income countries since the heterogeneity in these research outcomes and designs. Most of the researches’ authors are not able to do meta-analysis, but instead summarized all the findings qualitatively.
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One research conducted a study that checked the effects of introducing the device, as well as oxygen concentrators on pneumonia-related related death in developing countries like Papua New Guinea. Improving hypoxemia detection and treating the disease before it hits a critical level reduces pneumonia death by at least 35%.
Based on their studies, a risk reduction of at least 1.5%, the number of patients needed to test the device and treat the disease with the help of supplemental oxygen in order to help save one life was 57. It is a game-changing treatment for a condition that is killing more or less a million children every year.
Notably, part of the observed reduction in these deaths can also be related to the overall improvement of the care received by patients in the quality improvement scheme. Each year, there are at least a million hypoxemic pneumonia episodes that require hospitalization all over the world.
And even though oxygen is on the critical medicine list of the World Health Organization, patients in district hospitals and other referral hospitals in developing countries in Asia and Africa are unlikely to get oxygen treatment because of the lack of consistent supply of necessary oxygen. It is tough to imagine that introducing pulse oximetry into the context can help improve the outcome of pneumonia in children.
According to researches, knowledge of the oxygen saturation that was associated with changes in clinical management, in some cases, escalation of care like administration of treatment and admission to a health care institution.
In other cases, the oximeter findings are very reassuring and it can lead to lessen the responsibility of health care providers. The results are very intuitive and not surprising, but it demonstrates that medical professionals find the details generated by the oximeter useful in supervising the patients.
According to studies, the pulse oximeter can improve the outcome of children suffering hypoxemia who needs oxygen. For the family of the patients suffering from prematurity, pneumonia or sepsis, it is an excellent new treatment, but to reap all the benefits it can offer, we need t find a way to make sure that when the device detects hypoxemia using the device, there is a stable supply of oxygen to help treat the disease.