Home General A Guide: How to Choose spO2 Monitor

A Guide: How to Choose spO2 Monitor

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pulse oximetry, or spO2, has lately gained traction in the media, with some doctors advising patients with Covid to monitor their own spO2 levels at home. So it’s understandable that many individuals are asking themselves, ‘What is this spO2?’ for the first time. 

Saturation of Peripheral Oxygen (spO2) is an acronym meaning Saturation of Peripheral Oxygen. Pulse oximetry measures the oxygen level in your red blood cells using an instrument called a pulse oximeter. Your blood oxygen concentration will be shown as a percentage on the gadget. Persons with lung problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthmatic, or pneumonia, as well as people who stop breathing while sleeping (sleep apnea) may have lower blood oxygen levels that need to be monitored. 

A multifunctional, or multiparameter, patient monitor, a bedside or portable pulse oximeter, or a finger spot-check pulse oximeter are the three types of devices used by medical practitioners to assess a patient’s oxygen saturation levels. The first two types of monitors can continually measure the patient’s oxygen saturation and can usually show or print out a graph of the patient’s blood oxygen over time. The spot-check oximeter, on the other hand, is designed to obtain a snapshot of the patient’s saturation at a specific point in time and is typically used during checks at clinics or doctor’s offices.


Spot-checking spO2 gives caretakers a sample of a patient’s blood oxygen level at the time the test is taken. In certain cases, this is more practical. This is more practical in cases where a patient does not require constant monitoring, such as steady, low-acuity, or ambulatory individuals. Several spO2 monitor models are small and portable, making them ideal for on-the-go use. Continuous monitoring, on the other hand, is now accessible in remote and tetherless variants, allowing patients to move around freely even while being observed, giving them the perfect combination.

Continuous surveillance

With additional data comes the possibility of more accurate clinical evaluation. Continuous monitoring provides trended data and adjustable alarms, allowing caregivers to keep on top of patient development and alerting them to the need for additional action. Early intervention, which supports improved health outcomes, requires timely warnings or updates concerning patient conditions. 

An increased, chronic care patient, for example, who is on one or more drugs, may have unanticipated side effects. Caretakers with continuous monitoring have a better understanding of their patient’s state and may make better clinical judgements and care decisions with the help of continuous, high-fidelity data.

Wireless monitoring 

The use of wireless continuous spO2 tracking is becoming more prevalent. Remote monitoring systems integrate continuous spO2 readings with a protected patient surveillance platform, enabling clinicians to remotely evaluate a patient’s trended data and communicate with them via a secure application in the event that a return to the hospital is required.

Tips for choosing an spO2 monitor

Has it been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to read (measure) in difficult situations such as patient mobility and poor perfusion (decreases in arterial blood flow)? Read the FDA information on spO2 monitors here. This is particularly crucial for neonates, who are prone to uncontrollable movement. Low perfusion is frequent in older persons with vascular or cardiovascular problems, for example. Many of the low-cost fingertip devices available on the internet lack these features, as they lack the specialised methods and signal processing that enable more complex devices to distinguish between noise and actual artery data. Under these prevalent situations, unreliable spO2 measurements might result in a significant number of false alarms and erroneous data, as well as delayed alerts and the inability to get accurate information on high-acuity patients. 

  • Has a substantial amount of clinical evidence derived from objective, peer-reviewed research been used to validate the technology?
  • Has the gadget been tested in a hospital setting and on the sickest patients, such as in the medical ICU or pediatric intensive care unit?
  • Is it accurate to 2% or less under tough conditions?

Was the technology created, but has it been shown to correctly measure a range of skin pigmentations? Because pulse oximeters rely on light passing through the epidermis, older models and those that haven’t been designed or tested on a wide range of pigmentations are sometimes unable to reliably detect spO2 in individuals with darker complexions.

David Tobin did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd