The 2010 International Standards for a Safe Practice of anaesthesia considers the use of pulse oximetry mandatory, and no AAGBI member would consider giving an anaesthetic without one; but in low-resource countries our colleagues have little choice.
There are an estimated 77,700 operating theatres worldwide currently working without pulse oximeters.
As a result, anaesthetic deaths in these countries are at least 100 times more frequent.
The AAGBI has always worked to support safe anaesthesia abroad and in 2004 we launched the Global Oximetry initiative, promoting oximetry in low-resource countries. The need for a sustainable cost and education intervention was clear.
In 2007 we were instrumental in ensuring that oxygen monitoring was recognized as an integral step in the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Checklist, a programme proven to reduce complications by more than one-third, and deaths by almost 50%.
|Now we are taking a lead role in a new not for profit organization that aims to close the pulse oximetry gap:|
This is a ground-breaking partnership initiative with the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists and the Harvard School of Public Health, lead by Dr. Atul Gawande.
In consultation with an international panel of experts we have developed a pulse oximeter which exceeds the highest WFSA-WHO specifications, for targeted sale in low-resource countries. At $250 including delivery, the price is unmatched and within reach. With an educational CD Rom that contains an award-winning video and materials about oximetry for use in self-learning or classroom teaching, the project will make surgery safer for millions of patients around the world.
 Funk LM, Weiser TG, Berry WR, Lipsitz SR, Merry AF, Eright AC, Wilson IH, Dziekan G, Gawande AA. (2010), Global operating theatre distribution and pulse oximetery supply: an estimation from reported data; Lancet 376, September 25: 1055-1061