Saturday, 06 March 2021

Monitoring kits for home use

PARAMEDICS with South Central Ambulance Service have become the first in the country to supply covid-19 patients with oxygen monitoring kits to use in the home.

Each kit comprises a pulse oximeter device, a symptom diary and a set of strict guidelines and is for people who don’t require immediate admission to hospital but are at higher risk of complications from the virus.

The initiative will ensure patients who have mild symptoms but other risk factors, such as being over the age of 65, can monitor their own oxygen levels and know when to seek help.

A slight drop in blood oxygen levels could be an early warning sign before the onset of breathlessness.

In most cases of bacterial and non-covid pneumonia, shortness of breath appears relatively early and ahead of any significant drop in oxygen levels, known as hypoxia.

However, with covid-19, a drop in oxygen levels often comes first, which is referred to as “silent hypoxia”, and patients can be significantly unwell by the time they become breathless.

These findings resulted from a study of almost 20,000 patients who called for an ambulance between March 1 and July 31 last year.

The oxygen levels of 1,080 confirmed covid-positive patients were studied at the point they were initially assessed by paramedics.

Patients whose blood oxygen levels dropped one or two per cent below 96 per cent showed no signs of shortness of breath but often went on to require admission to intensive care and had a lower chance of survival.

Following the study, NHS England launched a nationwide roll-out of its “Covid Oximetry @home” initiative, which involves supplying home kits to people who test positive and are at higher risk of complications.

The ambulance service says about 300,000 have been supplied so far.

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