Objective: To determine practices related to the use of pulse oximetry in monitoring infants of < 1500 gm birth weight on supplemental oxygen.
Study design: A mailing list of all neonatal intensive care units with accredited Neonatal-Perinatal Fellowship programs was prepared. A questionnaire was prepared and mailed to collect information on the following: Method used for noninvasive monitoring of oxygen therapy, acceptable maximum and minimum arterial pulse oxygen saturation levels, high and low alarm settings, and whether oxygen was administered at a fixed or variable rate.
Results: A response rate of 70% to 85% was achieved for different items of the questionnaire. A wide variation exists regarding acceptable arterial pulse oxygen saturation levels and alarm settings. Many units accepted an arterial pulse oxygen saturation level of 100% or set the high alarm at 100%.
Conclusion: There is a need for greater awareness of the potential for hyperoxemia that may result from accepting an arterial pulse oxygen saturation level of 100% or setting high alarms at 100%. We urge stricter adherence to published recommendations.