How to Read a Pulse Oximeter Like a Boss
Under the subcategory of pulse oximeters, Medshop Australia maintains roughly two-dozen models and accessories for measuring oxygen saturation.
While the pulse oximetry market is full of options well in excess of that number, what we carry is what users tend to want after considering all their options.
In short, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. Now you only have to pick the oximeter that works for your needs. That picking is where most folks get stuck.
Accurately using a pulse oximeter may seem at first like a scary proposition, especially if one’s life depends on accurate readings, but it’s really not that difficult. In fact, by the time you finish reading this blog, you’ll see that there’s not much to the matter.
What follows are the broad strokes dividing the three biggest brands and their oximeters, but first a note on the general use…
For the record, Medshop Australia intends this blog for entertainment purposes and not as a comprehensive how-to guide. To properly use any medical tool, consult with the manufacturer.
So, If you're asking the question of how to read a pulse oximeter, check out our guide below for a basic understanding of the models and how they work.
How Does a Pulse Oximeter Read Oxygen Levels? – General Use
Here’s the good news: Reading oximeters regardless of brand is easy. Even the most non-technical users can master turning on any device, putting it on and reading the data.
Each has a probe, the part that goes non-invasively on the finger, and the pulse oximeter measures oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) and a heart rate (BPM). They may also measure arterial blood gas and identify things such as carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, the number of red blood cells, and a range of health conditions related to pulse rate, blood flow, and blood pressure.
They do this using infrared light, providing a fast and accurate picture of the patients blood oxygen level and blood oxygen saturation by measuring the light the changes of light absorption in the blood stream.
For users, picking the right oximeter will come down to cost, display, or portability. Generally, the finger oximeters are the most portable, although earlobe oximeters may also be quite compact.
Light emission diode (LED or OLED) displays offer the clearest data, but liquid crystal display (LCD) is good enough for most users.
Other factors for consideration may include a user's need for additional data like aplethysmograph (pleth) chart or other features such as anti-movement or ambient light blocking.
Each manufacturer offers a slightly different list of benefits and features, here, we'll take a look at using pulse oximetry divided by brand.
Using Pulse Oximetry - Biolight Oximeters
Guandong Biolight Meditech Co., Ltd, otherwise known simply as Biolight, is a Chinese medical supply company.
Since 1993, they have specialised in patient monitoring systems, from multi-perimeter monitors to simpler tools like pulse oximeters.
What Biolight brings to the oximeter table is affordable and reliable innovation.
For many organisations working with tight budgets, Biolight is the perfect no-compromise solution.
Using Biolight Finger Pulse Oximeters
Finger pulse oximeters like the Biolight Finger Pulse Oximeter SP02 Monitor are easy to use and so accurate—perfect for real-time spot-checking of oxygen levels.
Assuming the user has already charged the two AA batteries, one only need to apply the probe to the finger, press the button to turn on the monitor, and then wait for results.
These oximeters work in any ambient light condition. This is the same technology in the pediatric version mentioned above.
Using Biolight Handheld Oximeters
In the Medshop Australia catalogue, we have one handheld Biolight oximeter, the M800 Patient Monitor.
Biolight designed this model to work with rechargeable AA lithium batteries which charge when placed in the stand, but that feature does not come with the standard unit shipped from us.
Unlike Biolight’s finger oximeters, this device has a more clinically accurate reading, and therefore should only be used by professionals. The display includes oxygen saturation, pulse, and an accurate pleth chart.
This doesn’t mean it’s a tough device to use. Once it’s charged and on, one only needs to attach the probe to a patient’s finger to get an accurate reading.
The display conveniently rotates from landscape to portrait views by simply turning the device. Where the device separates from the models above is the menu and navigation buttons, which allow the user to adjust the settings for sound, display, and readings.
Most will use this menu to change the device from spot-checking to continuous modes. It requires entering the passcode, “789” to access that menu.
Using Pulse Oximetry - Heal Force Prince Oximeters
In their English-speaking markets, the Heal Force line of pulse oximeters bears the name Prince as part of each model name.
The Prince line of oximeters may not always be the cheapest of the bunch, but they do promise an easy and accurate reading for a variety of users.
Heal Force’s Prince oximeters are accurate, functioning in both clinical and home-use situations. They are so easy to use, one only need insert a finger to activate them and receive a reading.
Prince Oximeters are versatile enough to work with children’s and adult’s fingers by simply attaching a probe. The oximeter recognises and adjusts for the difference to give an accurate reading every time.
They also offer unique features like anti-motion technology for patients who suffer from disorders like Parkinson’s, and they offer rugged oximeters, designed to handle the impact being of being dropped.
Using Heal Force Handheld Pulse Oximeters
There is only one handheld oximeter in the Medshop Australia catalogue from Prince, but it’s a phenomenal device, the Prince-100F.
It’s simple enough to be used at home, but rugged and accurate enough that clinicians will appreciate it too. To use it, one only need to attach the correct probe for adult, child or baby, and power up the handheld.
The large dot-matrix LCD display with backlight makes this device super easy to read, and it displays critical data for analysis.
Using Heal Force’s anti-motion control, it gathers data beyond SpO2 and BPM, offering a pleth chart or perfusion index display as is the preference of the user.
What the handheld can do that the finger oximeters cannot is store data, in this case for up to 70 hours. For more advanced users, it can also integrate with data management software to track changes over time.
The 100F is cord-free but can operate with the optional external cord as well.
Using Pulse Oximetry - Rossmax Oximeters
Easy to use and understand just like the rest of the oximeters on this blog, what truly separates the Rossmax from the rest is the introduction of their ACT technology.
ACT stands for Artery Check Technology, which means the oximeters from Rossmax process SpO2 levels to determine arterial stiffness.
Their oximeters then classify the arteries into one of six categories in addition to measuring the oxygen volume.
This is key for early detection of arteriosclerosis, peripheral circulation disorders, and other cardiovascular diseases as well as hypoxemia and low oxygen levels.
Using Rossmax Handheld Pulse Oximeters
Similar to the Heal Force line, Medshop Australia carries one Rossmax handheld pulse oximeter, the SA210. It’s the most affordable handheld oximeter on our list, making it the first choice of individuals and clinics on a budget.
Use of the device is as easy as affixing the correct probe, all three we’ve included with each handheld, and turning it on.
The Rossmax handheld offers more features than the finger oximeters but is as easy to use with a similar simple LCD display, reporting SpO2 and BPM metrics.
More advanced users will appreciate the ability to toggle off the alarm feature, which may be more appropriate for clinical use. It can even run silently if necessary by simply pressing a mute button.
Using Rossmax Finger Pulse Oximeters
While Rossmax may not be the least expensive brand of oximeters in the Medshop lineup, the Rossmax name and reputation make it one of the most purchased brands of the bunch.
The two finger oximeters we carry, the SB100 and the SB220, both offer Rossmax reliability and ease of use, making either a good choice for individual use. they both come with one button design, the large on-button.
Once turned on and applied to the finger, both oximeters do all the work. The SB100 offers a no-nonsense LCD display, packaged in a sturdy design, which delivers accurate spot-check metrics.
Both the SB100 and the SB220 offer Rossmax ambient light prevention design, so readings have a smaller margin of error.
The SB220, however, comes with an LED display, allowing it to rotate 360 degrees depending on the viewing angle. Reading an oximeter was never easier than with the SB220.
If you still have questions, we want to hear from you. Please contact us today. We want to help you find the perfect oximeter for your needs by answering any questions you may have.