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New Study Concludes That Less Than Half of Hospitals Have Equipment On Site to Diagnose Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Researchers suggest that a new, lower cost, noninvasive device that accurately measures carbon monoxide in the blood may be the solution

Irvine, California, July 11, 2006 - A recent study published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine titled "Carboxyhemoglobin Measurement by Hospitals: Implications for the Diagnosis of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning", examined the capability for diagnosing carbon monoxide poisoning at 204 acute care hospitals in the Pacific Northwest, concluding that only 44% of the hospitals had the necessary equipment on site to measure carbon monoxide levels in the blood.  For the hospitals that did not have the testing equipment, the average time to receive results of a blood sample sent to another facility was over 15 hours. 

The study states that carbon monoxide poisoning is common in the U.S. with over 40,000 emergency room visits annually for diagnosed cases.  The authors also suggested that it is likely that there are many more undetected cases due to the fact that the symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning are not obvious and often attributed to other causes. The authors stressed the importance of rapid diagnosis to speed treatment in order to prevent permanent brain injury.

Until recently, the only way to accurately measure the level of carbon monoxide in blood was through a test called CO-oximetry, which requires a blood sample to be taken and run through a laboratory CO-oximeter.  The authors in this study found that, if the hospital had a CO-oximeter on site, it took, on average, 10 minutes to perform the test, but if the hospital had to send the sample offsite, it took over 15 hours, on average.

The lead researcher and author of the study, Neil B. Hampson, MD, stated, "There is a new noninvasive pulse CO-oximeter now available from Masimo Corporation that might help this situation.  With the relatively high price of an invasive CO-oximeter, I would presume that the lack of availability is usually due to cost of the instrument.  Given that the Masimo device is priced significantly lower, more hospitals should be able to afford them.  In addition, if the test can be done in seconds, without taking a blood sample, I would expect many more cases of carbon monoxide poisoning to be detected.  This could reduce morbidity due to carbon monoxide poisoning."

About Masimo
Masimo develops innovative monitoring technologies that significantly improve patient care- helping solve "unsolvable" problems.  In 1995, the company debuted Read-Through Motion and Low Perfusion pulse oximetry, known as SET, and with it virtually eliminated false alarms and increased pulse oximetry's ability to detect life-threatening events.  Over 70 independent clinical studies have confirmed that Masimo SET technology allows clinicians to accurately monitor blood oxygen saturation in critical care situations.  In 2005 Masimo introduced Rainbow SET and with it, Pulse CO-Oximetry, which, for the first time, noninvasively monitors the level of carbon monoxide and methemoglobin in the blood, allowing early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening conditions.

Masimo, founded in 1989, has the mission of "Improving Patient Outcome and Reducing Cost of Care by Taking Noninvasive Monitoring to New Sites and Applications." Additional information about Masimo and its products may be found at

Masimo, SET, Signal Extraction Technology and Improving and Reducing Cost of Care by Taking Noninvasive Monitoring to New Sites and Applications are registered trademarks of Masimo Corp. Rainbow and Pulse CO-Oximetry are trademarks of Masimo Labs.

Brad Langdale