While the target saturation levels for the stabilisation of a COVID patient used to be 97-98 per cent around two months ago, it is now being kept to 92 per cent, multiple sources confirmed.
“Oxygen conservation team members have instructed to remove ventilators of patients if their saturation level is 90 per cent and observe if there is a further dip for a few hours without ventilators. But due to the unpredictable nature of the infection, we are losing some patients during the observation while many of them deteriorate and are again put back on oxygen, “ said a general physician on duty at COVID-19 ward at Stanley Medical College and Hospital.
Doctors claimed that daily monitoring and change in the oxygen levels of patients are carried out to ensure availability of oxygen for other patients, as there are close to 100 new admissions daily to the emergency unit at a government hospital. “Saturation levels between 90-94 per cent is considered ideal for even severe cases. But patients are coming with 20-30 per cent saturation and that is when maximum oxygen support is given. We are not able to help such cases,” said G Vishal*, a member of the oxygen conservation team at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. A daily audit of oxygen at the hospital is being carried out and in the case of stable patients, the level is maintained at 85 per cent to ensure the conservation of the oxygen for 2-3 hours daily. Dr Radhakrishnan, head of the department of Anaesthesia Department at Stanley Medical College and Hospital said that the conservation team had told that the saturation levels are being monitored with a target of about 92 per cent, as the body functions continue the same way in higher saturation levels. Dr K Kolandaisamy, public health expert and former Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine said that proning and oxygen level monitoring is necessary. “As per needs, patients can be taken down from oxygen support to ensure availability for others. However, they cannot be discharged,” he added.