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Swedish Hospital ER Physicians' COVID-19 Research is Published in Academic Emergency Medicine Journal and Cited by WHO

by Bill Ligas | Oct 01, 2020

COVID-19 research completed by a team led by Dr. Christine Patte DO, FACOEP, FACOI, Program Director of the Swedish Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program, was recently published and has been cited by the World Health Organization (WHO). The research paper entitled "Novel Use of Home Pulse Oximetry Monitoring in COVID‐19 Patients Discharged From the Emergency Department Identifies Need for Hospitalization" was cited in the WHO guidelines. The research provides advice on safe and appropriate home care for patients with coronavirus disease and on the public health measures related to the management of their contacts.

The Swedish Hospital research team began the study in March as COVID-19 cases started to significantly impact hospital capacity. “We wanted to develop guidelines to identify patients who required hospitalization versus those who we could keep out of the hospital safely and who would feel better about being sent home. We wanted to find a way to safely monitor for the silent hypoxia that we can see in patients affected by COVID-19, but without unnecessary hospital admissions,” Dr. Patte said. 

The study protocol called for discharging non-severe COVID-19 patients home with portable pulse oximetry devices to self-report their oxygen saturation levels as a way to identify if they needed to be hospitalized at a later date. “Ultimately, we were able to develop guidance that gave our COVID-19 patients the opportunity to stay at home with a simple, easy to use tool that let them know when to seek a higher level of care,” said Dr. Patte. “We are pleased that this published data that was cited by the WHO can offer guidance to other physicians. It is a benefit to enable patients to safely and comfortably stay home while also enabling healthcare facilities to manage resources and reduce overcapacity issues.”

“This is unprecedented on many levels; a community hospital was not only able to complete research and receive publication, but was cited by an international organization, something that may only happen once in a lifetime and is a dream for many researchers,” said Dr. Rodney Fullmer, Associate Program Director of the Swedish Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program. 

The research team ultimately enrolled 77 patients in the study, and were able to look at specific factors that showed a significant link to worse disease outcome, such as disease comorbidities and ethnicity.  The study data showed that an at-home, resting blood oxygen level of less than 92 percent was associated with an increased likelihood of hospitalization. The Swedish Hospital Foundation provided funding for the oxygen sensors that were provided to patients.

Congratulations to Dr. Patte, and Swedish Hospital Emergency Medicine Residents Dr. Sonia Shah, Dr. Nita Gupta, Dr. Spencer Suppes, Dr. Marina Karaminis, and Dr. Joseph Capannari for this important work that is especially valuable as healthcare organizations respond to this crisis. Read the research abstract and WHO Guidelines.