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Analysis Too Much Medicine

When technology creates uncertainty: pulse oximetry and overdiagnosis of hypoxaemia in bronchiolitis

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3850 (Published 16 August 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3850

Re: When technology creates uncertainty: pulse oximetry and overdiagnosis of hypoxaemia in bronchiolitis

I have been a GP for 25 years and also work as a medico-legal expert. There is a tendency to admit more patients and take less risk in all urgent cases due to the increase in litigiousness amongst the public and the consequences that would arise from the GMC, CQC and NHS England if an adverse outcome occurred. Therefore some of the observed behaviour might not be related to the availability of pulse oximetry but the general unwillingness of doctors to tolerate risk. Where pulse oximetry, and other investigations, are contributing to borderline cases being admitted is the existence of an objective measure of a patient's condition. It would be a brave doctor who records a low reading but then decides not to admit as the recording could be used against them in legal proceedings.

Competing interests: No competing interests

02 September 2017
Kaiser Chaudhri
GP
Preston