Study gives 'thumbs-up' to nail polish in hospital

Study gives 'thumbs-up' to nail polish in hospital.
Study gives 'thumbs-up' to nail polish in hospital.

Patients should not be required to remove their nail treatments when they are admitted to hospital‚ a new study shows.

Accurate readings of patients’ oxygen levels are crucial to their treatment and researchers have found that nail treatments do not affect these readings‚ measured by a device placed on the fingertip.

Nail polishes‚ varnishes and acrylic nails do not‚ as suspected‚ affect readings from the digital pulse oximetry (DPO) devices used to measure blood oxygen saturation levels. The device emits a light on the side facing the nail‚ which is picked up by a sensor on the opposite side of the fingertip.

Lead author Dr James Purcell from the University College Cork suggested: “Hospitals should establish policies that do not require the removal of any of the nail treatments.

“Experimental data indicate the nail treatments specified do not contribute significantly to a difference in blood oxygen readings‚ therefore have no clinical impact on patient care.”

The researchers did experiments on 12 volunteers “to analyse the effect of nail polish of different colours and acrylic nails from popular brands” on oxygen saturation levels‚ under varying physiological conditions.

None of the treatments caused more than a slight variation in the readings under any of the physiological conditions tested. Under 95% oxygen therapy is indicated.

The knowledge of the 55 doctors and 21 nurses from four hospitals who participated in the research survey varied‚ but overall they had a “poor knowledge or understanding of effects” of nail treatments.

More than a third had taken steps to remove nail treatments‚ suspecting they would interfere with the devices reading oxygen.

Patients’ oxygen levels are key to critical care and anaesthesia and influence the type and level of medical intervention they receive. The results were presented on Friday at the Euroanaesthesia congress in Copenhagen‚ Denmark.

Nail treatments are increasingly popular in South Africa and the market has grown fast‚ servicing clients from pre-teen girls to adult men. Now they can flash their true colours in the waiting room without fear of being nailed by healthcare staff.

The cosmetics and personal care market is worth R25 billion‚ according to the latest figures from the Department of Trade and Industry.


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