10 Things Paramedics Should Know About Oximetry

February 20, 2018

Do you know all there is to know about oximetry when making decisions for your patients? Not all oximeters are created equal. Dr. Wesley from HealthEast Medical Transportation shares his thoughts on the importance of a durable oximeter in a pre-hospital environment. We’ve summed it up for you.

1.The Basics of Pulse Oximetry: a procedure that noninvasively measures the amount of oxygen in the blood, frequently performed in an EMS setting.

  1. Pulse oximetry gives clues to perfusion and oxygenation,indicating how sick the patient is.
  2. Oximetry can guide care– Too much, or too little oxygen can be harmful depending on the patient’s state. A reliable oximeter will show you the O2 level so you can administer oxygen accordingly.
  3. Use the right size sensor for your patient.Pediatric vs. adult patients need appropriately sized sensors to obtain accurate diagnostics.
  4. Indications for use are vital to your success with an oximeter. If it doesn’t say “indicated for poor perfused patients” or “intended for use in EMS environments,” it will likely fail to perform in those situations. Nonin’s Onyx Vantage 9590 is specifically indicated for use in EMS environments, and for patients with low perfusion. 
  5. Testing an oximeter on yourself or on a few patients is not representative of large scale EMS use.Additionally, comparing a lower cost device against your clinically proven, more expensive device can be a mistake when assessing oximeters.
  6. Response Delay times vary depending on where you place the sensor:

a.Heart to finger – 30 seconds

b.Heart to forehead – 10 seconds

c.Heart to toes – 90 seconds

  1. Cold hands? Fresh manicure? These are some possible causes for erroneous readings.Cold extremities cause low regional perfusion which could result in a false reading if you do not have the right oximeter. 
  2. Amazon.They sell everything, including pulse oximeters, how convenient! But the indications for use specifically mention that they are not suited for medical use. Don’t make that mistake! Oximeters sold at drug stores and Amazon simply do not compare to a clinically proven and tested medical device.
  3. Not all FDA cleared oximeters perform alike.Check out this study conducted at Clinimark Laboratoriesshowing the difference in FDA cleared oximeters. Nonin Medical’s device performed above the rest, and is clearly the most reliable out of the oximeters tested. To learn more, click here.

Pulse oximetry is an important component in EMS settings and healthcare in general. Using it to guide your care plan can help to ensure the safest and most effective experience for your patients. For more information on pulse oximetry, click here.