Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive technology that is integral to the supportive care of hospitalized infants with bronchiolitis. A multicenter, randomized trial comparing the effectiveness of intermittent vs continuous pulse oximetry found similar length of hospital stay and safety outcomes, and greater nursing satisfaction, with intermittent monitoring.
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of intermittent vs continuous pulse oximetry in hospitalized infants with stabilized bronchiolitis.
Design, Setting, and Participants
An economic evaluation concurrent with a randomized trial in community and tertiary children’s hospitals in Ontario, Canada, was conducted using a probabilistic analysis. Patients were enrolled from November 1, 2016, to May 31, 2019. Data included infants aged 4 weeks to 24 months hospitalized with bronchiolitis, with or without supplemental oxygen, after stabilization. The cost-effectiveness analysis adopted a societal and health care system perspective and a time horizon from hospitalization to 15 days post-discharge. Patient level direct health care costs and indirect costs were included. Health resource use, costs, and clinical outcomes were obtained from trial data. Publicly available pricing resources were used to supplement costs. Ranges for sensitivity analysis were based on 95% confidence intervals of the trial data. All costs were reported in 2021 Canadian dollars.
Intermittent (every 4 hours) vs continuous pulse oximetry using an oxygen saturation target of 90% or higher.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Costs and incremental costs.
Trial data from 229 infants (median [IQR] age, 4.0 [2.2-8.5] months; 136 boys [59.4%], 93 girls [40.6%]) were included. Mean societal costs per patient were $6879 (95% CI, $3393 to $12 317) in the intermittent and $7428 (95% CI, $1743 to $25 011) in the continuous group with a mean incremental cost of −$548 (95% CI, −$18 486 to $8105). Mean health care system costs per patient were $4195 (95% CI, $1191 to $9461) in the intermittent and $4716 (95% CI, $335 to $22 093) in the continuous group (incremental cost, −$520; 95% CI, −$18 286 to $7358). The mean effect measure of length of stay was similar between the 2 groups: 37.4 hours (95% CI, 1.0 to 137.7 hours) in the intermittent group and 38.5 hours (95% CI, 0 to 237.1 hours) in the continuous group. One-way sensitivity analyses on all variables revealed that the findings were robust and the incremental costs were not sensitive to the uncertainty within the defined ranges.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this prospective economic evaluation study, we found that costs were similar for intermittent and continuous pulse oximetry considering societal and health care perspectives. Given that clinical outcomes between monitoring strategies are comparable and that other practice considerations favor intermittent monitoring, these findings provide additional information that support the use of intermittent monitoring in hospitalized infants with stabilized bronchiolitis.