The Importance Of A Pulse Oximeter To Patient Care
A pulse oximeter is used in hospitals, hospices, clinics and doctor’s offices everywhere to measure the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. From the measurement obtained with the meter, a doctor or nurse can easily determine the level of oxygen saturation, an important factor when the patient is suffering from a breathing disorder like COPD or other types of respiratory disorders.
Do you have a loved one on oxygen therapy at home? Make their life easier by purchasing a pulse oximeter for home use from Mobility Specialists. Call us today so we can help you choose the right one for your needs.
How a Pulse Oximeter Works
Blood absorbs both red and infrared light at different concentrations, depending upon how much oxygen is present in that location. Blood that is fully oxygenated will absorb more infrared light, while blood that is lacking in oxygen will absorb more red light.
That said, the pulse oximeter uses both red and infrared light to test the levels of oxygen in the blood. When attached to the measurement site, normally a finger, earlobe or toe, the unit emits both types of light, which passes through the appendage and is captured by a photo detector on the other side. The photo detector will then calculate the ratio of red to infrared and that number is converted into the saturation level of oxygen in the blood.
Limitations of Using a Pulse Oximeter
Low body temperatures can obscure the heat of the lights passing through the skin, and obscure the tracking of the pulse. As the heart beats, the walls surrounding the arteries expand and contract with the pressure of the blood flowing through them. When the skin temperature is lower than normal, it means that the blood is not flowing properly through that area, so it throws off the measurement.
If you are trying to take the measurements in a brightly lit area, the excess light can also diffuse the red and infrared light, throwing off the ratio. If the patient is cold and shivering from the temperature or from muscle spasms, that condition can also throw off the reading from the vibration of the skin around the diodes.
Benefits of Using a Pulse Oximeter
The use of this device during the giving of oxygen therapy, especially to homebound patients is invaluable. If the amount of oxygen an individual is receiving daily is not sufficient to promote healing, then the therapy is useless. By using a pulse oximeter, the home health caregiver can accurately report the readings on a daily basis, alerting the doctor to any adverse readings immediately.
A pulse oximeter has also been found to be beneficial for patients recovering from accidents or diseases that have left them physically incapacitated, as well as patients suffering from sleep apnea, asthma and heart conditions. Without the right amount of oxygen flowing through our blood, our bodies cannot heal themselves properly.