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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Can a cat cause a low SpO2?

The patient is admitted through triage, and her SpO2 is 78% on 3lpm.  The patient is wearing her home oxygen equipment.  As soon as the patient is admitted into an ER room, I disconnect the patient from her tank and hook her up to the wall.  As I did this I said, "Turn your oxygen off and save it for the ride home."  So I did this as a good gesture, not for any therapeutic reason.

Lo and behold, after I plug her nasal cannula into the wall flowmeter and turn it to 3lpm, her SpO2 slowly goes up and up and up until it's 98%.  This, my friends, is a tell tale sign that her tank was empty.  Upon further investigation, I learned that she had a cat, and the cat had clawed through the tubing on her oxygen machine at home.  She didn't think this would make a difference, but apparently it did. 

So, do you know how we figured out her cat was the cause of her low SpO2?  Well, we did a CAT Scan! 

Okay, so I'm kidding about the CAT Scan part, but the rest of the story is true.  The patient was discharged to home after a single albuterol breathing treatment and a bolus of solumedrol, although a part of me thinks all she needed was her oxygen back.  Home care was called, and they fixed that part. As far as the cat... well, your guess is as good as mine.

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