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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Shortfall in O2 saturations

Oxygen saturation monitoring is available in only a tiny

proportion of practices despite recommendations in national guidelines, a new audit reveals.

The study surveyed 103 practices around Edinburgh and found just four had access to monitoring equipment.

Monitoring was available to 7.9 per cent of referrals to accident and emergency but documented in only 1.8 per cent of cases, the study found.

The researchers warned their results, published early online by the Primary Care Respiratory Journal, were likely also to apply to the rest of the UK.

Dr Steve Cunningham, study researcher and consultant respiratory paediatrician at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, said wider use of monitoring in primary care was needed and it should be included in GP training.

'Primary care centres are finding them useful as part of a clinical assessment,' he said.

He added that smaller, cheaper machines were now available and should increase availability and use in both asthma and COPD.

Dr David Bellamy, a member of the British Thoracic Society and a GP in Bournemouth, said: 'Really all practices should have one.'

BTS/SIGN guidelines recommend oxygen saturation monitoring to measure acute asthma severity, especially in children.

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