- Patients with suspected hypoxemia.
- Apply probe to patient’s finger or any other digit as recommended by the device manufacturer.
- Allow machine to register saturation level.
- Record time and initial saturation percent on room air if possible on/with the patient care report (PCR).
- Verify pulse rate on machine with actual pulse of the patient.
- Monitor critical patients continuously until arrival at the hospital. If recording a one-time reading, monitor patients for a few minutes as oxygen saturation can vary.
- Document percent of oxygen saturation every time vital signs are recorded and in response to therapy to correct hypoxemia.
- In general, normal saturation is 97-99%. Below 94%, suspect a respiratory compromise.
- Use the pulse oximetry as an added tool for patient evaluation. Treat the patient, not the data provided by the device.
- The pulse oximeter reading should never be used to withhold oxygen from a patient in respiratory distress or when it is the standard of care to apply oxygen despite good pulse oximetry readings, such as chest pain.
- Factors which may reduce the reliability of the pulse oximetry reading include:
- Poor peripheral circulation (blood volume, hypotension, hypothermia)
- Excessive pulse oximeter sensor motion
- Fingernail polish (may be removed with acetone pad)
- Carbon monoxide bound to hemoglobin
- Irregular heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation, SVT, etc.)
- Placement of BP cuff on same extremity as pulse ox probe