Hypoxaemia is one of the strongest predictors of mortality among children with pneumonia. It can be identified through pulse oximetry instantaneously, which is a non-invasive procedure but can be influenced by factors related to the specific measuring device, health provider and patient. Following WHO’s global recommendation in 2014, Bangladesh decided to introduce pulse oximetry in paediatric outpatient services, ie, the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) services in 2019. A national committee updated the existing IMCI implementation package and decided to test it by assessing the pulse oximetry performance of different types of assessors in real-life inpatient settings.
We adopted an observational design and conducted a technology assessment among children admitted to a rural district hospital. Eleven nurses and seven paramedics received one-day training on pulse oximetry as assessors. Each assessor performed at least 30 pulse oximetry measurements on children with two types of handheld devices. The primary outcome of interest was obtaining a successful measurement of SpO2, defined as observing a stable (±1%) reading for at least 10 seconds. Performance time, ie, time taken to obtain a successful measurement of SpO2 was considered the secondary outcome of interest. In addition, we used Generalized Estimating Equation to assess the effect of different factors on the pulse oximetry performance.
The assessors obtained successful measurements of SpO2 in all attempts (n = 1478) except one. The median time taken was 30 (interquartile range (IQR) = 22-42) seconds, and within 60 seconds, 92% of attempts were successful. The odds of obtaining a successful measurement within 60 seconds were 7.3 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 3.7-14.2) times higher with a Masimo device than a Lifebox device. Similarly, assessors aged >25 years were 4.8 (95% CI = 1.2, 18.6) times more likely to obtain a successful measurement within 60 seconds. The odds of obtaining a successful measurement was 2.6 (95% CI = 1.6, 4.2) times higher among children aged 12-59 months compared to 2-11 months.
Our study indicated that assessors could achieve the necessary skills to perform pulse oximetry successfully in real-life inpatient settings through a short training module, with some effect of device-, provider- and patient-related factors. The National IMCI Programme of Bangladesh can use these findings for finalising the national IMCI training modules and implementation package incorporating the recommendation of using pulse oximetry for childhood pneumonia assessment.
- Child, Hospitalized