n South African Medical Journal - Hypoxaemia on arrival in a multidisciplinary intensive care unit : research

Volume 106, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Transport of the critically ill patient poses the risk of numerous complications. Hypoxaemia is one such serious adverse event and is associated with potential morbidity and mortality. It is, however, potentially preventable.

To determine the incidence of hypoxaemia on arrival in a tertiary multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) and to identify risk factors for this complication.
A retrospective observational study was conducted at King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, South Africa, from May 2013 to February 2014.
Hypoxaemia occurred in 15.5% of admissions sampled. Statistically significant risk factors for hypoxaemia on univariate analysis (< 0.05) included lack of peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO) monitoring, transfer by an intern as opposed to other medical/ paramedical staff, and transfer from internal medicine. Use of neuromuscular blockers and transfer from theatre were protective. Binary logistic regression analysis revealed lack of SpO monitoring to be the only significant independent predictor of hypoxaemia (odds ratio 6.1; 95% confidence interval 1.5 - 24.5; =0.02).
Hypoxaemia is common on admission to the ICU and may be prevented by simple interventions such as appropriate transport monitoring.

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