The availability and use of oxygen saturation monitoring in primary care in order to assess asthma severity

Steve Cunningham, Ann McMurray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: The BTS/SIGN guideline recommends oxygen saturation (SaO2) monitoring as an objective measure of acute asthma severity, particularly in children, in both primary and secondary care. We assessed the availability and use of SaO2 monitoring for acute asthma assessment in primary care.

METHODS: Fax and telephone questionnaire of Primary Care services in the Edinburgh region to assess use of SaO2 monitoring in the past 24 months, in association with a 24-month retrospective assessment of A&E attendances with acute wheeze. Children over 12 months of age registered with eligible general practices attending A&E with wheeze and/or asthma were included.

RESULTS: There were replies from 103 general practices (100%) and eight Out-of-hours cooperatives (100%). Oxygen saturation monitoring was available in four general practices (3.9%) and three Out-of-hours cooperatives (37.5%). 1408 children attended A&E with wheeze/asthma, 721 referred by primary care. Oxygen saturation monitoring was available to 7.9% of A&E attendees from primary care, but documented in only 1.8% of primary care referrals.

CONCLUSIONS: SaO2 monitoring is not widely available in primary care and is infrequently used for the assessment of acute asthma. SaO2 measurement as an adjunct to clinical assessment of asthma in primary care needs encouragement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-101
Number of pages4
JournalPrimary Care Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Adolescent
  • Asthma
  • Blood Gas Monitoring, Transcutaneous
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Oxygen
  • Primary Health Care
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scotland
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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