Portable, consumer-grade pulse oximeters are accurate for home and medical use: Implications for use in the COVID-19 pandemic and other resource-limited environments.

Academic Article


  • Objective: To determine the correlation between 3 lightweight portable pulse oximeter devices compared to a standard wall mount pulse oximetry device. Methods: We performed a single-center, prospective, observational study of 4 pulse oximetry devices, 3 of which are commercially available to the public. A convenience sample of 200 emergency department (ED) patients with chief complaints of cardiopulmonary origin or a peripheral capillary oxygen saturation ≤ 94 percent were enrolled. Analysis of variance was performed to compare SpO2s and test characteristics of the 3 devices compared to control. Results: Although differences in measured SpO2s were observed (P < 0.001) across groups, the differences were small (mean differences ranged from 1.00% to 1.87%). The correlation between test devices and the control were high (r range 0.70-0.79). Although the test characteristics were not perfect, the devices did have good sensitivity using a cutoff value of 94% (sensitivity ranging from 90% to 92%), which improved with lower SpO2 cutoff values to 92% (sensitivity ranging from 96% to 97%). Conclusion: The 3 commercially available devices were accurate enough to be clinically useful when compared to a hospital bedside monitor pulse oximeter. Consumer-grade portable pulse oximeters may be useful if overwhelming numbers of patients require oxygen saturation monitoring, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Keywords

  • COVID‐19/novel coronavirus, hypoxia, oxygen, oxygenation status, pulse oximetry, respiratory physiological phenomena
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schrading WA; McCafferty B; Grove J; Page DB
  • Start Page

  • 1450
  • End Page

  • 1458
  • Volume

  • 1
  • Issue

  • 6