To the Editor.
—I read with great interest the report by the Council on Scientific Affairs1 on the use of pulse oximetry during conscious sedation. As pointed out, pulse oximetry has proven to be a very useful monitor in detecting desaturation events in the operating room as well as in non-operating room locations. Pulse oximetry does not substitute for good patient care; however, pulse oximetry does provide an early warning to practitioners that something is wrong, and it calls attention to the fact that they need to look at the patient. The position statement failed to emphasize that in our studies of approximately 550 anesthetized pediatric patients, half of whom had oximetry data available to the anesthesia team and the other half of whom had no oximetry data available to the team, the incidence of severe desaturation events, ie, a saturation of less than or equal to 85% for 30
Coté CJ. Pulse Oximetry During Conscious Sedation. JAMA. 1994;271(6):429. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510300029027