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Pulse Oximetry common misconceptions regarding use

last modified on: Thu, 02/08/2024 - 13:22

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see also: Pulse Oximetry Basic Principles and Interpretation

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

“A little learning is a dangerous thing
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again. ..."   Alexander Pope (1688-1744)


False: Pulse oximetry is an indicator of adequacy of ventilation

      True: Pulse oximetry is not an indicator of adequacy ventilation (Seeley 2015, Milutinovic 2016)

False: The majority of pulse oximetry alarms are correct

       True: The majority of pulse oximetry alarms are incorrect (Seeley 2015, Milutinovic 2016)

False: Pulse oximetry is reliable in severely anemic patients  

       True: Pulse oximetry may be unreliable in severly anemic patients (Seeley 2015, Milutinovic 2016)

False: Pulse oximetry provides real-time readings when the sensor is placed on the fingernail



Seeley Marie-Claire, McKenna L and Hood K: Graduate nurses' knowledge of the functions and limitations of pulse oximetry  Journal of Clinical Nursing, 24, 3538-3549  2015

Milutinovic Dragana, Repic Gordana, and Arandelovic Branimirka: Clinical nurses' knowledge level on pulse oximetry: A descriptive multi-center study. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing. December 2016, Vol 37:19-26