Rethinking Pulse Oximetry Screening in the Level-IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American journal of perinatology




S 01




OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the outcomes of newborn pulse oximetry screening in a level IV, tertiary care neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). STUDY DESIGN: This is a retrospective cohort study of neonates who received newborn pulse oximetry screening after being admitted to a single-center, level-IV NICU between 2014 and 2021. Neonates with known critical congenital heart disease were excluded from the study. RESULTS: Of the 4,493 neonates who had pulse oximetry screening, there were three positive screens (fail rate of 0.067%, 0.67 per 1,000 screened). The average age of screening was 818 hours. There were no positive screens of newborns who were admitted during their initial birth hospitalization and were screened while off oxygen. There were no new diagnoses of critical congenital heart disease (true positives) and there were no known false negatives. CONCLUSION: The results bring into question whether pulse oximetry screening with the current AAP-endorsed algorithm should be re-evaluated for a level-IV NICU at a children's hospital. However, the results may not be generalizable to other NICU's where echocardiography and prenatal echocardiograms are not as readily available. KEY POINTS: · Pulse oximetry has been shown to be effective in decreasing delayed diagnosis of critical congenital heart disease (CCHD); however, there are limited prior studies on newborn pulse oximetry in the NICU.. · In our study of over 4,000 neonates admitted to a level IV tertiary care NICU, there were no true positives (no new diagnoses of CCHD).. · Special considerations may be needed for pulse oximetry screening in the NICU setting..