Published Aug 1, 2009
While working over the past year, I have seen the disposable finger "sticky" pulse oximeters applied to the forehead of patients who where not satting well in emergency situations various times.
Now I commonly apply the oximeter to the head if the patient is not satting well - that is if the finger sat is poor.
Recently a PA and MD- resident/intern -, said something to me.
A patient had been kept an extra day in the hospital because low sats- nothing else, pt was asymptomatic. However, when the oximeter was applied to the head, the pt satted 97%-100%. On finger 88-90%. Pt didn't have copd. I told the PA and the PA told the resident/intern (i really don't know which b/c I work nights and never deal with this particular MD). The intern/resident said the head wasn't accurate. However, the pt was sent home the next day.
Another occassion a PA looked questioned why I applied the pulse ox to the forehead of a pt. She is new to the profession, so I really didn't pay attention to her comment. The way she looked at me, however, I will never forget. It was what the hell are you doing kinda look.
So my question, all things aside, does using a finger, "sticky" pulse ox on the forehead provide an accurate reading?
No. Applying it to the forehead requires a special type of oximeter that is built for measuring the O2 sat in close proximity to the skull, which can cause bounce-back of signal, giving an inaccurate reading. It can be taken on the forehead, but there is a special forehead probe to use.
WSU_Ally_RN, BSN, RN
Why wouldn't they just get an ABG to see if the pulse ox on the fingers or forehead correlated better instead of just keeping the pt for a whole extra day??? I've personally never seen a regular "sticky" pulse ox probe used on the forehead, so I'm not sure if it would work right or not...
Sunflowerinsc, ADN, RN
The sticky ones we use are applied to the ear lobe, can't say I have ever seen one on the forehead.
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