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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2006 Jun;22(6):412-4.

Decrease in emergency department length of stay as a result of triage pulse oximetry.

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1
Children's Hospital Los Angeles and USC Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Many emergency departments do not perform pulse oximetry in triage, in spite of its potential for altering management decisions. We attempted to quantify the decrease in patient throughput time in a pediatric emergency department following the introduction of triage pulse oximetry.

METHODS:

One hundred fifty-nine bronchiolitis patients from 2004 served as the preintervention group, and were evaluated against 89 severity-matched postintervention bronchiolitis patients from 2005. Their mean lengths of ED stay were compared by a t test.

RESULTS:

The preintervention group had a mean length of stay of 4 hours and 59 minutes, and the postintervention group had a mean length of stay of 4 hours and 9 minutes, which was significantly different (P = 0.03). The sensitivity of respiratory distress on the triage exam for predicting hypoxia was fair (74%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Institution of triage pulse oximetry significantly decreases ED throughput times. Clinical exam alone is not a replacement for measurement of oxygen saturation.

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