Objective We describe a case of persisting readings from a fingertip pulse oximeter (FPO) in an elderly cachectic woman with pancreatic cancer, who fulfilled all classical criteria of death.
Methods It is an instructive example of a home hospice patient who died during the physician’s intervention. Although all classical signs of death had been confirmed several times, a portable FPO continued to indicate satisfactory saturation and pulse readings for the following 30 min.
Results Our case report confirms that the classical criteria of death might sometimes be faulty. The application of a portable FPO prevented a premature declaration of death.
Conclusion In exceptional cases, even the most careful physical examination may erroneously indicate that a person is dead. A residual cardiac output and gas exchange may be preserved and revealed by FPO readings. In doubtful situations, FPO can provide additional information and prevent a premature declaration of death.
- hospice care
- respiratory conditions
- terminal care
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Contributors MK is responsible for the concept, case analysis, selecting the literature and writing the paper. PK and AD participated in selecting the literature, case analysis and critical appraisal of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.