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J Trop Pediatr. 2012 Oct;58(5):389-93. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmr103. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Oxygen and pulse oximetry in childhood pneumonia: a survey of healthcare providers in resource-limited settings.

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PATH, Seattle, WA 98121, USA.


Globally, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children <5 years of age. Hypoxemia, a frequent complication of pneumonia, is a risk factor for death. To better understand the availability of oxygen and pulse oximetry, barriers to use and provider perceptions and practices regarding their role in childhood pneumonia, we conducted a survey using a convenience sampling strategy targeting clinicians working in resource-limited countries. Most respondents were physicians from public district and provincial hospitals with access to oxygen and pulse oximetry; however, reported therapeutic use for childhood pneumonia was low. Common barriers included insufficient supply, competition for use, lack of policies, guidelines and training and perceived high cost. Despite the frequency of hypoxemia, the inaccuracy of clinical predictors, the poor outcome hypoxemia portends and the effectiveness of pulse oximetry and oxygen in childhood pneumonia, our data indicate that these tools may be underused in resource-limited settings.

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