What does it mean?

People always want to know what their oxygen saturation "should be". I hate giving figures (what should your blood pressure be?) but a fit, healthy young person will probably have an oxygen saturation of 95 - 99%. This will vary with age, degree of fitness, current altitude, oxygen therapy etc etc.

Pulse oximeters can either be used to take a 'one-off' reading from someone or can be left on for period of time. A single one-off reading often isn't much use, trends over a period of time give more information.

It is important to remember that pulse oximetry is only one way of monitoring breathing. It is also necessary, as a minimum, to record respiratory rate and if pulse oximetry is used the amount of oxygen they are receiving must be recorded. As with all clinical assessments the 'whole picture' must be looked at.

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page last modified: 26/09/2006
Pulse oximetry
What is oxygen saturation?
What does it mean?
How does it work?
  Poor signal
  Carbon dioxide
  Carbon monoxide
  Skin pigmentation
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Oxygen transport

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