How should I use a fingertip oxygen monitor?

This article is for patients who have been asked by their GP practice to use a fingertip oxygen monitor.

To get an accurate reading from your fingertip oxygen monitor:

  • Remove any nail polish or false nails.
  • Warm your hand up if cold.
  • Make sure you have been resting for at least five minutes before using your monitor.
  • Rest your hand on your chest at heart level and hold still.
  • Switch the pulse oximeter on and place it on your finger. It works best on your middle or index fingers.
  • The reading takes time to steady. Keep the pulse oximeter in place for at least a minute, or longer if the reading keeps changing.
  • Take the highest result once the reading has not changed for five seconds.
  • The monitor will give two numbers. One is your oxygen level (Sp02 or %) and one is your heart rate (often PR, HR or BPM).
  • Please consult the instructions for your device or clarify with a healthcare professional on how to read the results if this is unclear.