Polish health ministry to supply up to 50,000 pieces of medical equipment to help fight Covid-19 in homes

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Those who are infected and confined to their homes will be provided with pulse oximeters to lessen the strain on the Polish health service and provide equipment to help Poles fight the coronavirus as the infection rate rapidly increases. 

The idea is to use up to 50,000 pulse oximeters to remotely monitor the condition of infected patients who are able to manage the disease at home. Although the patients will not be in hospitals, the oximeters will inform doctors if a patient’s condition is worsening.

The Ministry of Health intends to supply up to 50,000 infected individuals with the devices, which means that they could reach almost every fifth patient. The current active number of infections in Poland is 230,000.

The oximeters will be delivered by the Polish postal service.

A pulse oximeter is a medical device that indirectly monitors the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood (as opposed to measuring oxygen saturation directly through a blood sample) and changes in blood volume in the skin, which produces a photoplethysmogram.

A measurement by the oximeter takes only a few seconds and involves simply placing the device on a finger.

If a patient’s oxygen level drops, they will be able to enter the measurement into their phone application. The information will then be passed to the analysis center which will be working 24/7.

If the measurements alarm medical authorities, a signal will be sent to a general practitioner doctor who will call the patient to check up on them. The doctor will then be able to decide whether to send for an ambulance. 

The main reason for this strategy is that not everyone who is suffering the coronavirus’s symptoms must be sent to a hospital via ambulance, which would require more trips for ambulances, the time of paramedics, and a spot in the hospital which could be given to a person in a much worse condition. The idea will also increase basic health care for a much larger group of patients who have to stay at home after diagnosis, but have no one to take care of them.

Initially, the ministry will send out 1,000 oximeters as a trial run of the strategy. According to information from portal Money.pl, the project will be initiated in between one and two weeks. The ministry will use the trial run to see if doctors are even willing to use such devices and if the system will actually work.

The entire cost of the pulse oximeters is to amount to between €2.2 to €3.3 million.

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