"Smart watch" vs traditional for taking pulse/resp


Silly question, but kind of important since I want to get a good watch. :)

Does anyone regularly use a "smart watch" (preferably for android) to take a pulse? I have no idea how they work and haven't had a chance to find a store that would let me play with them. When I see them on people's wrists the screen is black so I'm hesitant buy something I have to constantly touch to get the seconds to come up since I'm working with patients. On the other hand, I really like the "fitness" features some have.

What do you use and would you recommend it?

Specializes in ICU Stepdown.

I had an Apple Watch and I'm not sure how you would even be able to check other people's pulses with it? Or do you mean for yourself? If you mean yourself, there's an option you click on and you wait a couple seconds and it measures your pulse. It was kind of annoying to count respirations with the watch because I set it to turn black after so many seconds instead of having the screen stay up so I could save battery life. So I would have to keep touching the screen to keep it up and finish counting respirations. I liked the watch because it accurately counts steps and notifies me of texts but honestly I really like my manual watch as well.


88 Posts

Has <1 years experience.

I've seen people wear fit bits and apple watches for clinical but to me it seems to be more trouble than its worth. You have to click around for the clock and make sure it's charged and that your texts aren't in the way etc etc. For me, a waterproof watch I can literally just rinse if anything like vomit or drainage gets on it was the way to go. It just seems like extra work and worry to me.


1 Article; 32 Posts

Specializes in CCU, CVICU, CVRU, Cardiac Cath Lab, RRT. Has 1 years experience.

Garmin Vivosmart HR is great! You simply pronate your wrist and the watch lights up. You can choose which feature you want the watch face to be set too (HR, steps, calories, time, weather, text/alerts, stairs climbed, intensity minutes, etc.). The watch allows you to recieve weather data, text, alerts, etc. from your phone (android or apple). It tracks your HR and activity. Waterproof and a smooth texture (on the older modal) make it great for cleaning the germs off. There is no option to have it count down the seconds though (for timing patient's RR and HR).


1,035 Posts

Sounds like the short answer is, "Nope."

Get yourself a cheap analog watch (you know, the kind with the numbers on a dial) with a second hand and a strap or band you can easily sanitize at the end of the day, or that you can pin on your uniform hanging upside down so you can read it while your hands are full.


158 Posts

I wear a cheap water proof watch with a second hand, a rubber watch band and large numbers so if I get it wet, it is no problem. I have destroyed 2 many good watches while at work due to the water, lifting patients, lifting boxes, and many other activities that nurses have to do.

verene, MSN

1,790 Posts

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

I use a cheap ($12) water-proof plastic watch with a second hand. It's easy to sanitize, easy to read, and best of all if it gets broken it's no biggie to replace. I would not want to wear a really nice watch (smart or otherwise) for patient care, just too much potential to be exposed to icky stuff, and too much potential for it to inadvertently break.

That being said I do see a number of both staff and students with fitbits and other smart watches around the hospital.

Specializes in RN-BC, SCRN. Has 6 years experience.

I've had an Apple Watch (1st gen) for the last year, and I love it. I got tired of my cheap work watches dying on me or falling apart (and they were ugly). My watch has a white band for work that I can easily change to something dressier if I want, it's easy to clean, and I can customize the face. Most importantly it has a second hand, many smart watches don't), and when I am on floors where phones are banned - I still can get notifications on my wrist while my phone is in my pocket. It tracks my fitness, and all my moves and steps (12 hour day will get you 15K steps easy). I wouldn't have anything else at this point.


39 Posts

The pebble watch has an always on screen and changeable watch faces.. I have one with a seconds hand that I plan on using.. The model I have is the pebble 2 hr.