An innovative patient safety project is being trialled at St Peter’s Hospital (on Aspen Ward) for patients who are prescribed oxygen. As with so many of the best ideas it’s really simple; a coloured wrist band to alert staff to the right oxygen saturation levels for that patient.

For example, patients suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can often be at risk of being over-oxygenated. The correct saturation level for COPD patients is between 88-92% - an orange wrist band will alert staff that this is the safe level for these patients. Similarly a blue wrist band will tell staff that a patient needs a saturation level between 94-98% (these are usually patients with healthy lungs but who have an acute illness).


Dr Melanie Irvin-Sellers with Senior Physiotherapist Paul MacDonald administering one of the new orange wrist-bands


These simple bands will mean staff monitoring patients on oxygen can easily see if levels are falling outside the safe level – ensuring safe monitoring. The bands also act as a prompt for doctors to make sure that there is a correct prescription for all patients who are on oxygen. The scheme – brainchild of respiratory consultant Dr Melanie Irvin-Sellers, registrar Dr Hannah Burton and Clinical Specialist Respiratory Physiotherapist Stephanie Harlow - has been approved by the Respiratory Clinical Governance Committee.

Dr Irvin-Sellers comments: “Above all this is a patient safety initiative. It’s an exciting and innovative trial that will help us improve how we monitor patients who are receiving oxygen on prescription. Oxygen is a drug and needs to be administered safely and to the right levels. It’s a simple idea but one we hope will make a difference and help us to provide safe, high quality care.”

The results of the initial trial will be checked against baseline figures to see if the bands have improved awareness and, if successful, the scheme will be rolled out across the Trust.


The top picture shows one of the new orange wrist-bands to help safer oxygen prescribing