Background There is a new emphasis in neonatal care in ensuring target levels of oxygen saturation are achieved to maximise the benefits and minimise the complications of oxygen therapy.
Methods All infants <36 weeks transferred by the CenTre neonatal transport service requiring respiratory support during transport from April to September 2012 were identified. Data on oxygen delivery and saturations were obtained for the first twenty infants transferred each month. A total of 708 saturation recordings were documented during transport, each recording was assessed against the defined saturation targets.
Results 120 infants were identified with a gestational age at birth ranging from 23+6 to 35+5. CPAP was given during transport to 33% and 66% received mechanical ventilation. 73 infants were in oxygen on departure of the transport team from the referring unit and 68 were in oxygen for some or all of the transfer.
196 (28%) saturation recordings breached target (22% above, 6% below). Infants more likely to breech targets were those transferred for surgical reasons (54% recordings outside targets, 47% above) and those above 3 weeks of age (87% recordings outside targets, 72% above). There was a trend to more immature infants breaching the upper limit target more often.
Conclusions Most saturation readings documented are within the target range (72%) but care needs to be taken to ensure oxygen saturations remain within targets. More infants appear to have oxygen saturations above their target range than below. Further work is needed to trial interventions that attempt to improve target achievement.
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