Hospital and Telephone Triage

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Pulse and pulse oximetry in the medical sector

Video 33 of 91
4 min 58 sec
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Pulse Oximeter Usage and Interpretation


The pulse oximeter is a crucial tool for assessing oxygen saturation and pulse rate.

Important Points:

  • Measures percentage of oxygen attached to haemoglobin.
  • Typically used on patients with respiratory conditions like COPD.

Usage and Procedure

Placement and Procedure:

  • Place the pulse oximeter on the patient's finger.
  • Ensure the finger is clean and free from obstruction.
  • Use any finger except the one used for blood pressure measurement.


  • Ensure the finger is clean and unimpeded by substances like grease or nail varnish.
  • For children, use appropriate-sized probes designed for their age.

Interpretation and Intervention


  • Ideal oxygen saturation is 96% or above.
  • If oxygen saturation falls below 88%, it indicates an emergency.

Additional Assessments:

  • Check pulse rate audibly and manually for strength and regularity.
  • Assess capillary refill time by pressing fingernail and observing color change.

Assessment of Capillary Refill


  • Press fingernail down for five seconds.
  • Release and observe time taken for fingernail to return to pink color.


  • Capillary refill should occur within two seconds.
  • Delayed refill indicates potential circulation problems.


Understanding pulse oximeter readings and additional assessments like capillary refill time is essential for effective patient care and timely intervention.