Got COVID-19? You May Not Need That Pulse Oximeter After All

…per a letter to the editor at New England Journal of Medicine.

Study participants were enrolled from Nov 2020 to Feb 2021. So probably before the delta and omicron variants. Outpatients were assigned either to a “standard program” of home monitoring or the standard program + pulse oximetry. There was no difference between groups in terms of “number of days alive and out of the hospital.” For the 30-day trial, that number was 29.4-29.5. In other words, very few of the ~1000 enrolees got very sick.

Pulse oximeters are readily available in the U.S. for ~$40.

The standard program was “COVID Watch, a 2-week program involving twice-daily automated text messages inquiring about dyspnea and offering rapid callbacks from nurses when appropriate. This program has been associated with improved survival as compared with no remote monitoring.5

I spent about 10 mins trying to find the age of these patients. No luck. I don’t even now if they were adults. Thanks, NEJM. I’m not totally convinced that outpatient oximetry has no role in home treatment of COVID-19. But clearly not every patient needs it. Perhaps just those at high risk of hospitalization and death.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Obesity is a risk factor for severe disease from COVID-19. Let me help you do something about it.

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One response to “Got COVID-19? You May Not Need That Pulse Oximeter After All

  1. Did you see this article about “Hydroxychloroquine / azithromycin in COVID-19: The association between time to treatment and case fatality rate”?

    “A total of 1265 COVID-19 patients with an average age of 44.5 years were studied…with at least one comorbidity…No patient treated within the first 72 h of illness died…The case fatality rate in COVID-19 outpatients treated with hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin was associated with the number of days of illness on which treatment was started.”

    Beginning treatment within 72 hours of symptom onset resulted in no fatalities, even in patients with comorbidities.

    Amazing that only 3 articles cite it. Looks like it is being studiously ignored.