Pulse Oximetry: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Technology

May 22, 2019 | Evaluations & Guidance


Pulse oximetry is used to noninvasively analyze arterial hemoglobin oxygen saturation (SpO2) and pulse rate (PR) in various clinical settings across the continuum of care. It is used across a range of devices, both as part of stand-alone pulse oximeters and incorporated into devices such as multiparameter physiologic monitoring systems, defibrillators, and anesthesia monitors.

Pulse oximetry has been identified as having some of the highest rates of false or nonactionable alarms among all the parameters that are monitored in healthcare facilities. Therefore, it's important that the pulse oximetry technology you choose be able to provide real-time, continuous, and accurate measurements over a wide range of arterial oxygen saturation values, during all types of patient motion (continuous and intermittent, aperiodic and rhythmic), and during low perfusion. (Note, however, that pulse oximetry cannot guarantee a patient's safety, and relying on it exclusively as a substitute for clinician vigilance can be dangerous. For more information, refer to our guidance article Pulse Oximetry: Watch the Patient, Not Just the Monitor. )

ECRI Institute member hospitals routinely ask us for guidance in selecting a pulse oximetry technology. This article identifies the factors you need to weigh to make the best choice for your facility.

Additional guidance can be found in ECRI Institute's Evaluations of Masimo and Medtronic pulse oximetry technologies (that is, the underlying techniques used to acquire, interpret, transmit, and display the targeted parameters), which hospitals can implement and standardize on throughout the continuum of care. For a summary of our Evaluation ratings and test results, along with information about our test protocol, data illustrating...

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