The use of pulse oximeters as an advanced safety net for patients with COVID-19 in the community

Tutorial presented by Dr Annabelle Holtam, General Practitioner in South Monmouthshire.

In this tutorial, we are joined by Dr Annabelle Holtam to outline the use of pulse oximetry as an enhanced safety net for the monitoring of patients with COVID-19 in the community. Annabelle has been providing pulse oximeters to her patients since March 2020, and will draw on their experience in their GP cluster. 

Patients with COVID-19 in the community who present with risk factors and/or marginally reduced pulse oximetry measurements, who don’t meet the criteria for admission to hospital, can be monitored from home with the use of a pulse oximeter. Patients should be instructed on how to use the pulse oximeter, and what pulse oximetry thresholds or symptoms would require action to be taken. The clinician who gives the patient the pulse oximeter can decide how frequently to follow-up with the patient, by phone call, text or Florey (accuRx). With this information, the clinician can decide whether the patient is safe to remain at home or have deteriorated to the point they need admitting to hospital. This should continue for two weeks, before the patient returns the pulse oximeter to the practice. 

There are links below to some example resources that can be adapted for use in primary care, including a guide on how to use the pulse oximeter and some written instructions that can be given to the patient. 

Mark as Understood


Example pulse oximetry how-to-guide (South Monmouthshire)

Example leaflet for patients (South Monmouthshire)

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© Institute of Clinical Science and Technology (ICST) 2020