Measuring oxygen saturation via pulse oximetry is a non-invasive way to quickly assess a client’s oxygen level. The results reflect a person’s oxygenation status and provide data for healthcare providers’ diagnostic reasoning.
The sensor can be attached in many ways, including clipping and taping probes to the finger, toe, earlobe, and forehead. The type and location of the apparatus is selected based on the client’s age, the presence of vasoconstriction, the adequacy of peripheral perfusion, whether intermittent or continuous monitoring is required, and the client’s health and illness state.
When determining the relevance of the oxygen saturation reading, healthcare providers consider the client’s health and wellness state. Specifically, they consider other data related to oxygenation including respiratory quality, rate, and rhythm; pulse; skin colour and temperature; and the client’s subjective description of ease or difficulty breathing. Decreases in oxygen saturation readings are potentially life-threatening and require immediate intervention.