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Best practices for using a pulse oximeter at home

Best practices for using a pulse oximeter at home

Proper training and technique for patients is the best way to ensure accurate readings with your at-home, remote pulse oximeter. Some of the most common reasons for inaccurate readings can be attributed to a simple lack of patient education. 100Plus provides accurate and reliable at-home Remote Patient Monitoring devices and proper patient education, guides, and resources to guarantee precise patient data for clinicians. 


Accurate pulse readings with a pulse oximeter is crucial in effectively monitoring, treating, and preventing health emergencies in patients suffering from chronic conditions. Conditions that affect blood oxygen levels and heart rate may be controlled and maintained more efficiently by remote pulse oximeters. This list of best practices enables patients to take their pulse with confidence in their oximeters accuracy and consistency. Patients who take their pulse frequently and consistently, with accurate readings, are able to work preventatively against their chronic conditions.

Who should use a pulse oximeter at home?

At-home pulse oximeters are best for patients suffering from chronic conditions such as:

  • COVID-19
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What are some factors that might interfere with accurate results?

Readings taken with an at-home oximeter may be affected by

  • Poor blood circulation in hands caused by circulation conditions
  • Skin color as skin with more pigment can cause higher than normal readings
  • Cold hands which can cause lower than normal readings
  • Wet skin which may reflect light and affect the reading
  • Thick fingernails or painted fingernails which can block light penetration and cause lower readings
  • Bruised or tattooed fingers which may distort results

One study found that pulse oximeters that are not approved by the FDA are susceptible to producing larger errors than FDA approved devices.

The 3 best ways to guarantee accurate at-home pulse readings

  1. Keep your hands dry and stable in temperature. Hands that are too cold or too hot, wet, or even sweaty may interfere with accurate pulse readings.
  2. Keep your hands and fingers as still as possible. Moving while taking readings may affect the oximeter's ability to read a pulse correctly.
  3. Try to test fingers that are not bruised or tattooed, and do not have painted nails. These factors may block proper light penetration during testing. Patients may alternatively try toes, or other doctor recommended limbs.
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