Pulse oximetry measures the amount of hemoglobin carrying oxygen in the blood.
Austin, Texas - In continuing efforts to protect those who are at a high risk of serious complications of COVID-19, Austin Public Health (APH) purchased 1,000 wireless pulse oximeters using CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) funding. COVID-19-positive patients at high risk will use this tool to better monitor themselves while combatting the virus.
Pulse oximetry measures the amount of hemoglobin carrying oxygen in the blood. This metric gives healthcare providers valuable information on how effectively the body is being oxygenated and can help patients determine when they may need to seek higher levels of care.
“Oxygen levels can drop dramatically in some COVID-19 patients, often long before they experience any severe symptoms,” said Austin-Travis County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Jason Pickett. “Using pulse oximetry will help both patients and their physicians make more informed decisions about the kind of care they may need.”
For most healthy people, normal oxygen saturation is anything above 95%. Patients with chronic lung disease, like emphysema or bronchitis, or conditions like sleep apnea, may have a naturally lower oxygen saturation. Typically, these patients have normal oxygen saturation levels of 90% or higher. COVID-19 patients that receive these pulse oximeters will be given instructions from their physician or APH, that will direct them when to contact their doctor, or seek emergency care.
Patients who receive these devices will be given an instructional video and informational pamphlet, teaching patients how to use them, how to interpret the results, and how to troubleshoot potential errors that may arise.
“In addition to providing patients with valuable, potentially life-saving information, it is our hope that they will also provide some peace of mind for those that use them,” Pickett said. “This is a great tool for patients to assess their own condition and make appropriate decisions regarding their care.”
Five hundred of the pulse oximeters have been allocated for distribution through CommUnityCare, and APH will begin distribution to other patients starting July 11, beginning with vulnerable patients at the Austin-Travis County Isolation Facility, then to the community at large. APH plans to obtain more pulse oximeters as the COVID-19 response continues.
For COVID-19 information and updates, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.