Continuous oxygen monitoring--a better way to prescribe long-term oxygen therapy

Respir Med. 2005 Nov;99(11):1386-92. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2005.03.010.


Study objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if an oxygen prescription based on continuous oximetry monitoring, would result in an increased percentage of time spent within an SpO2 level between 88% and 92%.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, cohort study in an outpatient, pulmonary setting in a tertiary care referral center, on 17 patients with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who had previously been prescribed long-term oxygen therapy. The patients were monitored for approximately 24h with a portable oximeter that recorded SpO2 and EKG readings. During the initial 24h of monitoring, the patients were on their previous oxygen prescription. Their oxygen prescription was then altered based on a predetermined protocol described below. The patients were then monitored for an additional 24h.

Results: Sixteen patients completed the study. Based on the initial continuous oximetry, the median oxygen prescription was reduced from 2.5 to 1.2 L/min (P < 0.001). The oxygen prescription during exercise, rest, and sleep decreased from 3.0 +/- 0.9 to 1.8 +/- 1.3 L/min (P < 0.001), 2.2+/-0.4 to 0.8 +/- 0.7 L/min (P < 0.001), and 2.2 +/- 0.4 to 0.9 +/- 0.8 L/min (P < 0.001) respectively. After the oxygen prescription was adjusted, the percentage of the time that the SpO2 was between 88 and 92% increased from 24.8 +/- 21.7% to 52.8 +/- 25.0% (P = 0.001), but the percentage of time that the SpO2 was below 88% did not change significantly (2.8 +/- 6.1% to 4.3 +/- 8.1%).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that an oxygen prescription based on continuous oximetry monitoring results in (1) a significant increase in the percentage of time that the SpO2 is between 88% and 92%, (2) a significant decrease in the amount of oxygen prescribed, (3) a slight increase in the amount of time that the SpO2 is below 88% that was not statistically significant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods*
  • Oximetry / methods*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / blood
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen