What is the lowest acceptable oxygen saturation for a child to be discharged?
There is often no simple answer to what appears to be a simple question. In healthy awake children a normal oxygen saturation is 97% to 99%. A saturation below 95% is greater than two standard deviations below the mean (− 2 SD). For healthy young infants, − 2 SD below the mean is 93%. At altitudes higher than 3000 m (10,000 ft), − 2 SD is below 85%. For infants, most clinicians use a threshold of 92% to 94% as a criterion for discharge, though there is very little high-quality evidence for this. If an inpatient with bronchiolitis is in the resolution phase of illness, many institutions stop continuous pulse oximetry because the brief dips that are often noted prolong hospitalization without evidence of improved outcomes.
Unger S, Cunningham S: Effect of oxygen supplementation on length of stay in infants with acute viral bronchiolitis. Pediatrics 2008;121(3):470.