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Pulse oximeter - how much does it cost and which one to choose? Ranking 2024 (+norms and results)

A pulse oximeter is a useful saturation monitoring device that everyone can have at home. Find out how it works and what to look out for when buying one.

Nina Wawryszuk - AuthorAuthorNina Wawryszuk
Nina Wawryszuk - Author
AuthorNina Wawryszuk
Natu.Care Editor

Nina Wawryszuk specialises in sports supplementation, strength training and psychosomatics. On a daily basis, in addition to writing articles for Natu.Care, as a personal trainer she helps athletes improve their performance through training, diet and supplementation.

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Matthew Podlecki - Fact-checkingFact-checkingMatthew Podlecki
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At Natu.Care, she educates about healthy lifestyles and debunks dangerous myths, contrasting them with the results of the latest scientific research. Additionally, she is interested in new technologies and their impact on health and everyday life.

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Pulse oximeter - how much does it cost and which one to choose? Ranking 2024 (+norms and results)
29 April, 2024
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A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the saturation, or oxygen saturation, of blood. Find out why everyone should have one in their home medicine cabinet.

Pulse oximeters began to be talked about more during the coronavirus pandemic. Pocket-sized models have proved to be a convenient and accessible device for everyone to diagnose blood oxygen saturation - and it's a very important indicator of health.

Tips on how to use them.

We consulted with Dr Witold Tomaszewski, M.D., for the information and advice contained in this text.

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From this article you will learn: 

  • How does a pulse oximeter work? 
  • .
  • What to look for when buying a pulse oximeter?
  • .
  • Is it sensible to diagnose yourself based on a saturation reading from a smartwatch?
  • .
  • What are the recommended pulse oximeters for adults and children?
  • .
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Are you in need of help?
. Make an appointment
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See also articles on health:

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Pulse oximeter - what is it and how does it work?

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A pulse oximeter is a non-invasive electronic device that is used to measure blood saturationand. It is used to monitor the health of patients with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It is also extremely useful in monitoring COVID-19 disease in patients.

How does a pulse oximeter work?

The pulse oximeter measures by illuminating the capillaries with a special type of lightand. It then measures the amount of reflected light. Using a predefined algorithm, pulse oximeters calculate how much oxygen is in the blood.

Pulse oximeter can measure with:

  • fingers of the hand or foot,
  • .
  • the earlobe,
  • .
  • the wings of the nose,
  • .

In newborns, measurements are usually taken on the foot or wrist.

Types of pulse oximeters

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There are three most common types of pulse oximeters:

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  • finger pulse oximeter,
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  • stationary,
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  • wrist,
  • .

Fingerprint

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Popular 'pocket' sagittal pulse oximeters (in the form of a clamp) are small electronic devices that can be carried with you anywhere. To take a measurement, all you need to do is put the device on the finger of your hand (usually the index finger). The pulse oximeter is convenient to use and reliable. Look out for quality certificates from the manufacturer when purchasing.

Stationary

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Used in hospitals, medical facilities and nursing homes. It is large and has more functions than a napalc. Thus, it can simultaneously monitor more parameters in the patient (for example, blood pressure or respiration). Such a pulse oximeter is usually applied to the patient's finger and earlobe.

Wrist

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This type of pulse oximeter is placed in watches, smartwatches and sports bands. It has a different mechanism of action to the other types of pulse oximeters. It relies on the reflection of light from haemoglobin, which is detected by the sensor. It is far less precise and less reliable than napalcine or stationary.

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A pulse oximeter placed in sports bands, watches or smartwatches is not a medical device. It is an interesting accessory for athletes who monitor their fitness, recovery and training progress. However, it should not be used as the main device for measuring saturation.
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dr. n..

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Do you need help?
. Make an appointment
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Ranking of pulse oximeters

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Below you will find a list of pulse oximeters that are worth considering purchasing for your home first aid kit. They feature good value for money, solid workmanship and warranties of up to 5 years. 

Pulse oximeter .

NOVAMA OXIPULSO

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Power supply: two AAA batteries, included in the kit.

See more
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  • Pulse oximeter equipped with pulse and saturation sensor.
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Medical device with certification CE0123.
  • .
  • Saturation measurement range 70-100%, accuracy +/-2%.
  • .
  • Pulse measurement range 25-250, accuracy +/- 3 digits.
  • .
  • Can take up to 600 measurements on one pair of batteries.
  • .

NOVAMA OXIPULSO is equipped with a modern, easy-to-read OLED screen. It has the possibility of 4 display modes with waveform and columnar heart rate graph display. It has alarm functions, is very easy to use and has a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Pulse oximeter .

Microlife OXY300

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Power supply: two AAA batteries, included.

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See more
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  • Pulse oximeter equipped with heart rate and saturation sensor.
  • Pulse oximeter.
  • Medical device with CE0123 certification.
  • .
  • Saturation measurement range 70-100%, accuracy +/- 2%.
  • .
  • Pulse measurement range 30-250.
  • .
  • Battery operating time is approximately 30 hours.
  • .

Microlife OXY300 meets the standards required for clinical use - suitable for use in hospitals, clinics and ambulances. It stands out for its medical-grade accuracy and robust manufacturing. The plastic is robust and the individual components fit well (joints overlap, the unit does not creak). It has an easy-to-read, two-colour OLED display with 6 display modes.

Pulse oximeter .

Beurer PO30

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Power supply: two AAA batteries, included in the kit.

See more
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  • Pulse oximeter equipped with pulse and saturation sensor.
  • Pulse oximeter with pulse and saturation sensor.
  • Saturation measurement range 0-100%, accuracy +/- 2%.
  • Saturation measurement range 0-100%, accuracy +/- 2%.
  • Pulse measurement range 30-250, accuracy +/- 2%.
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  • It will last 30 hours on one pair of batteries.
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  • It has up to 5 years warranty.
  • .

The Beurer PO30 pulse oximeter has 4 display modes and a graphic pulse indicator. It comes with a practical lanyard and a case to prevent damage to the device. It features good build quality - the plastic is durable, the joints of the components are solid.

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Important!

Credible certification is not only the CE mark, but also the added number of the relevant body that participated in the certification for compliance with the European Union directive 93/42/EEC.

Pulse oximeters for babies and children

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Because of their health status, some children require constant monitoring of their saturation. Thanks to modern devices, this is possible even at home, away from hospital rooms.

Not every adult pulse oximeter will be suitable for babies and children. They are demanding patients - they have small fingers or are very mobile. 

This is an overview of the best pulse oximeters for children and babies.

Pulse oximeter .

YONKER YK-820B

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Power supply: rechargeable with USB charger included.

See more
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  • Pulse oximeter equipped with pulse and saturation sensor.
  • Type of wristband for wrist, foot or finger.
  • Type of wristband for wrist, foot or finger.
  • Medical device with CE0123 certification.
  • .

An additional surface sensor for measuring body temperature is also included. The lower and upper limits of the audible pulse and saturation alarm can be set independently on the device. The volume of the alarm can be adjusted, which is important if you do not want to wake a sleeping baby during the measurement.

Pulse oximeter .

Liip Smart Monitor

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Power supply: rechargeable, USB cable and charger included.

See more
  • Pulse oximeter equipped with a saturation, pulse and body temperature sensor.
  • Pulse oximeter.
  • Type of wristband or ankle brace.
  • Pulse oximeter.

The band is made of hypoallergenic, soft and certified material compliant with OEKO-TEX STANDARD. The armband has sturdy Velcro straps, but does not irritate the skin. The device is very lightweight, and thanks to Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy technology, it does not heat up and is efficient.

The dedicated mobile app is worthy of note. It allows you to collect and record data, analyse it and summarise it into a graph, which you can then show to your doctor. The app will also suggest what to do, depending on the test result.

Pulse oximeter .

Contec CMS 60D

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Power supply: two AAA batteries, included in the kit.

See more
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  • Pulse oximeter equipped with a saturation and pulse sensor.
  • Pulse oximeter.
  • Type of wrist, ankle or finger band.
  • Type of wristband.

Easy to use device with the ability to record test data. Saturation and pulse alarms can be personalised and limits can be set. Large, colour and easy to read screen.

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Important!

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When searching for baby and infant pulse oximeters, I have found many advertisements from private individuals who want to resell used devices. Bear in mind that you don't know how the pulse oximeter has been used, so before you buy - test it if you have the opportunity to do so.

Important!

What to look out for when buying a pulse oximeter?

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Certifications

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The CE mark alone is not enough - every device in the list above must have a CE for electronic devices. Look out for the CE bearing the number of the relevant body that participated in the certification for compliance with Directive 93/42/EEC

Certificates have different designations, especially look out for certificates: CE 0483, CE 0123 and CE 0197.

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Accuracy of measurement

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Please note in the manufacturer's description what measurement accuracy it declares. A good and reliable device has an accuracy of +/- 2% or 3%. 

Display

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The large colour display is particularly important if the device will be used by an elderly person. The information (test result, graphs) should be easy to read and understand for the user.

Price

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The prices of pulse oximeters range from a dozen to even several thousand zlotys. The price depends on the manufacturer, the quality of the device, certificates, additional functionalities.

When choosing a pulse oximeter for yourself or a loved one, it is worth investing in good equipment and being sure that it is reliable. Good quality certified devices can be purchased for as little as £100. 

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Important!

Many dishonest people try to sell fake pulse oximeters. They do this by discreetly changing the letters and numbers of the product name. Check the name and certification carefully before you buy.

Blood saturation - or what exactly a pulse oximeter measures

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Blood saturation determines the oxygen saturation of the bloodand. It is one of the most important vital signs along with heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and body temperature. This level tells us whether the body is adequately oxygenated so that it can function properly.

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Saturation is given as a percentage and denoted by the symbol SpO2. A saturation of 98% means that the body is functioning properly and 98% of the haemoglobin is getting through oxygen to the cells.
PhD.

Witold TomaszewskiDoctor of Medical Sciences

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Blood saturation standards and results

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Saturation at min. 95%and is considered normal. A result below 95% may indicate inadequate oxygenation of the body. Remember that you should look at your health holistically, rather than suggesting the result of a single parameter.

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Do you need help?
. Make an appointment
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Saturation levels of 90-95% may be due to a runny nose, but if levels fall below 90% - see a doctor immediately.
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dr. n..

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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PulsoCare app

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PulsoCare is the official government application that is part of the Home Health Care programme. It is used to remotely monitor and diagnose patients in their homes. The app works in conjunction with a pulse oximeter.

PulsoCare reads the patient's heart rate and saturation measurement data from the pulse oximeter. In addition, the patient himself completes the questionnaire with other parameters, which are sent to the system. The primary care physician can remotely decide whether to treat or send an emergency team to the patient.

Pulsoximeter a COVID-19

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Saturation monitoring in patients after or during coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 infection is criticaland. Patients with COVID-19 may develop what is known as silent hypoxia - hypoxia that they do not feel . Measuring with a pulse oximeter allows abnormalities to be detected quickly and complications from dangerous hypoxia to be avoided.

How to take the measurement? Instructions and advice from your doctor

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Dr Witold Tomaszewski, M.D., advises on how to take a measurement correctly with a pulse oximeter.

The following is an overview of how to take a pulse oximeter measurement.

  • Before taking the measurement, do not engage in intense physical activity.
    • Take the measurement.
    • Take the measurement in a shaded room or cover the device (strong light may distort the reading).
    • Sit up straight.
    • Sit up straight in a comfortable place.
    • .
    • Remove bandages, jewellery or nail polish from your finger.
    • .
    • Your hand should be warm, loose and below the level of your heart - e.g. on the back of a chair.
    • .
    • Place the pulse oximeter on the index finger of any hand.
    • .
    • Hold the pulse oximeter for as long as needed to monitor pulse rate and oxygen saturation.
    • .
    • Read the result and remove the device when the test is complete.
    • .
    .

    Important!

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    If you have wounds or an infection (e.g. fungal) on your index finger, you can take the measurement on another finger or toe.

    You may be interested in:

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    Popularity of pulse oximeters has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many patients have learned that they can monitor their health in the comfort of their own home. 

    A pulse oximeter should be owned by everyone - especially the elderly. Buying a pulse oximeter for yourself or a loved one is a priceless investment in health and peace of mind - fortunately, you already know what to look for when choosing a particular model.

    Summary

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    From this article, remember:

    • A pulse oximeter is a device that tests saturation (oxygenation of the body).
    • Pulse oximeter is a device that tests saturation (oxygenation of the body).
    • There is a distinction between finger pulse oximeters (for home use), stationary pulse oximeters (used in hospitals and medical facilities) and wrist pulse oximeters (built into watches, smartwatches or sports bands).
    • Pulse oximeters can be used in a wide range of applications.
    • When buying a pulse oximeter, pay attention to: certification, measurement accuracy, workmanship, price/quality ratio.
    • Not every adult pulse oximeter will be suitable for infants and children.
    • .
    • A pulse oximeter is a useful device not only for patients with COVID-19, but also for anyone who wants to monitor their health.
    .
    Are you in need of help?
    .  Make an appointment
    .

    FAQ

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    . What does the pulse oximeter indicate?.

    A pulse oximeter is a device that indicates saturation level - it measures the blood's oxygen saturation level and the heart's pulse. It is a very simple and useful device in monitoring health, especially if respiratory or cardiovascular disease is suspected. A saturation result below 95% is worth consulting your doctor.

    . How to choose the best pulse oximeter?.

    When buying a pulse oximeter, pay attention to a few key factors:

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    • measurement accuracy - the best models have a measurement accuracy of ±2%. The higher the precision, the better;
    • the better.
    • ease and comfort of use - the device should have a large, easy-to-read display, be intuitive to use and be adjustable in size according to your finger;
    • .
    • battery - a capacious battery will allow for longer use;
    • .
    • additional features - some models automatically switch off or alert if the saturation is too low;
    • .
    . How much does a pulse oximeter cost?.

    Pulse oximeters are available on the market in different price ranges. The amounts vary depending on the quality of the materials used, additional features and the manufacturer itself. Good pulse oximeters cost from 50 to even several hundred PLN. A higher price does not always mean better quality.

    . What finger to put the pulse oximeter on?.

    The pulse oximeter is worn on the pinky finger - preferably the index or middle finger. The side (left or right) does not matter. If it is not possible to put it on the index or middle finger (e.g. due to damage, infection), it can be put on another finger.

    The finger to be tested should be clean and dry. The pulse oximeter should not be placed on a finger with tips or nail varnish, as this may affect the accuracy of the measurement.

    . Can the pulse oximeter be worn on the toe?.

    Yes, you can put the pulse oximeter on your toe. It is important that the toe is undamaged, healthy and free of varnish and hybrids. At the time of measurement, the finger should be warm and the pulse oximeter should fit properly so that the device does not move.

    Please note that the accuracy of the measurement may be less than when it is classically placed on the toe.

    . How long do you need to keep the pulse oximeter on your finger?.

    The pulse oximeter should be held on the finger for at least a few seconds or as recommended by the manufacturer. The time taken to obtain the result of a saturation test may vary depending on the model of the device and its specifications. Remember that your finger must be clean and dry. Do not move during the measurement as this may affect the results, and read the user manual carefully before taking the measurement.

    . What can falsify a pulse oximeter result?.

    Saturation results from a pulse oximeter test can be distorted by several factors:

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    • low temperature - both ambient and your body temperature,
    • .
    • body movement,
    • .
    • incorrect adjustment of the pulse oximeter,
    • .
    • respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,
    • .
    • skin diseases (e.g. ringworm),
    • .
    • skin colour - in people with darker skin, the measurement may not be accurate because the infrared radiation needed to obtain the result may be absorbed by the melanin pigment in the skin.

    Please remember to create a calm environment for the pulse oximeter test and do not do it after physical exertion.

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    .

    Resources

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    . See all.

    Aj, E., M, E., & S, S. (2016). Does pulse oximeter use impact health outcomes? A systematic review. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 101(8). https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2015-309638

    Elder, J. W., Baraff, S. B., Gaschler, W. N., & Baraff, L. J. (2015). Pulse Oxygen Saturation Values in a Healthy School-Aged Population. Pediatric Emergency Care, 31(9), 645-647. https://doi.org/10.1097/PEC.0000000000000331

    Hafen, B. B., & Sharma, S. (2022). Oxygen Saturation. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525974/

    Okunlola, O. E., Lipnick, M. S., Batchelder, P. B., Bernstein, M., Feiner, J. R., & Bickler, P. E. (2022). Pulse Oximeter Performance, Racial Inequity, and the Work Ahead. Respiratory Care, 67(2), 252-257. https://doi.org/10.4187/respcare.09795

    Rahman, A., Tabassum, T., Araf, Y., Al Nahid, A., Ullah, Md. A., & Hosen, M. J. (2021). Silent hypoxia in COVID-19: Pathomechanism and possible management strategy. Molecular Biology Reports, 48(4), 3863-3869. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11033-021-06358-1

    Torp, K. D., Modi, P., & Simon, L. V. (2022). Pulse Oximetry. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470348/

    Drummond, G. B., & Lafferty, B. (2010). Oxygen saturation decreases acutely when opioids are given during anaesthesia. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 104(5), 661-663. https://doi.org/10.1093/bja/aeq076

    Hafen, B. B., & Sharma, S. (2022). Oxygen Saturation. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525974/

    Mathew, T. M., & Sharma, S. (2022). High Altitude Oxygenation. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539701/

    Mejía, F., Medina, C., Cornejo, E., Morello, E., Vásquez, S., Alave, J., Schwalb, A., & Málaga, G. (2020). Oxygen saturation as a predictor of mortality in hospitalized adult patients with COVID-19 in a public hospital in Lima, Peru. PloS One, 15(12), e0244171. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244171

    Poorzargar, K., Pham, C., Ariaratnam, J., Lee, K., Parotto, M., Englesakis, M., Chung, F., & Nagappa, M. (2022). Accuracy of pulse oximeters in measuring oxygen saturation in patients with poor peripheral perfusion: A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing, 36(4), 961-973. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10877-021-00797-8

    Sjoding, M. W., Dickson, R. P., Iwashyna, T. J., Gay, S. E., & Valley, T. S. (2020). Racial Bias in Pulse Oximetry Measurement. New England Journal of Medicine, 383(25), 2477-2478. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2029240

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Meet the team
Nina Wawryszuk - Author

Natu.Care Editor

Nina Wawryszuk specialises in sports supplementation, strength training and psychosomatics. On a daily basis, in addition to writing articles for Natu.Care, as a personal trainer she helps athletes improve their performance through training, diet and supplementation.

Witold Tomaszewski - Reviewed by

Doctor of Medicine

Verified by an expert

Doctor of Medicine, food and pharmaceutical law expert and experienced medical professional.

Matthew Podlecki - Fact-checking

Natu.Care Editor

At Natu.Care, she educates about healthy lifestyles and debunks dangerous myths, contrasting them with the results of the latest scientific research. Additionally, she is interested in new technologies and their impact on health and everyday life.

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