Pulse Oximetry

You hear it called “pulse ox.” You see hospitalized patients wearing it — a plastic clip with a light attached to their finger.

What is it?

Called a pulse oximeter, this equipment is one way to help assess someone’s breathing by measuring the oxygen saturation of arterial blood. It also helps measure a patient’s heart rate.

Respiratory Care — in conjunction with the Pulmonology Department — offers outpatient pulse oximetry at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Barron, Bloomer and Osseo. That means patients can have this simple screening test overnight in their own homes. With this new outpatient service, providers are able to:

  •  Assess patients’ home oxygen use
  •  Evaluate oxygen levels on room air for patients with issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Patients pick up a pulse oximetry machine from Respiratory Care and return it the next day. A respiratory therapist downloads the study’s results, which are interpreted by a pulmonologist. The patient’s health care provider arranges appropriate follow up. This may include referral for sleep evaluation with a pulmonologist or neurologist, evaluation by a pulmonologist for nonsleep-related causes or arranging home oxygen for the patient.