Find out what pulse oximetry is and why it is so useful in hospitals, clinics and healthcare centres with patients with respiratory failure.
What is pulse oximetry?
Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive technique for monitoring the amount of oxygen being transported by hemoglobin through the blood vessels or, in other words, a person’s oxygen saturation level (SpO2) and pulse rate.
This reading is made by a pulse oximeter, a device that should be available in any facility that treats patients with acute severe respiratory infection (SARI), according to the WHO. It plays a crucial role in the battle against COVID-19, as this new infection involves blood oxygen levels of less than 90% (a healthy person with no underlying medical conditions should have a blood oxygen level of between 95-100%).
How do pulse oximeters work?
These medical devices compare how much red light and infrared light are absorbed by the blood, using an infrared beam and a photodetector. The pulse oximeter is placed on the most translucent parts of the body: a patient’s finger, toe or earlobe. This makes it easier to take a reading of the amount of oxygen being delivered to the blood by the lungs and sent around the body, effectively monitoring if they are functioning correctly. The device screen displays the information on cardiac frequency and blood oxygen saturation.
Recommendations for using a pulse oximeter
A series of guidelines should be followed during the procedure to ensure the most accurate reading possible:
- Clean the skin surface of the area on which the pulse oximeter will be placed. Remove any nail varnish or false nails before taking the reading.
- Make sure the finger is kept still and that the device is not clipped on too tightly.
- If frequent readings are taken, alternate the fingers on which the device is placed.
If you are looking for a pulse oximeter for your healthcare center or for use at home, there are four different pulse oximetry products in the Kiversal catalogue: