#PNN_DoctorPatientHands

INTRODUCTION: The objective of this study was to assess the ability to test patients for carbon monoxide (CO) exposure in all hospitals in three United States (U.S.) Midwestern states.

METHODS: We surveyed hospitals in three states. Telephone queries assessed processes for measuring carboxyhemoglobin, including capacity for real-time vs send-out testing. Facilities were separated based on their location’s population size for further analysis. Descriptive statistics are reported.

RESULTS: Of the 250 hospitals queried, we ultimately excluded 25. Nearly all (220, 97.8%) reported a process in place to test for CO exposure. Over 40% (n=92) lacked real-time testing. Testing ability was positively associated with increasing population size quartile (range 32.6% - 100%). Hospitals in the lowest-quartile population centers were more likely to report that they were unable to test in real time than those in the largest-quartile population centers (67.4% vs 0%).

CONCLUSION: In a large geographic region encompassing three states, hospital-based and real-time capacity to test for CO exposure is not universal. Hospitals in smaller population areas are more likely to lack real-time testing or any testing at all. This may have significant public health, triage, and referral implications for patients. [West J Emerg Med. 2019;20(3)506–511.]

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