Home Saturation Monitoring – Patient Guide

You have been given a pulse oximeter to monitor your blood oxygen levels during your suspected COVID-19 infection. Please follow the instructions below.

Instructions for using the probe

  • Attach the pulse oximeter to your finger and wait until the screen indicates two numbers: your SpO2 and pulse rate.
  • SpO2 is a reading showing the amount of oxygen available in your blood to deliver to your heart, brain, lungs, and other muscles and organs.
  • The pulse oximeter will also indicate your pulse rate on the screen.
  • Please refer to the attached chart that shows what levels are normal, and when to seek medical attention if the readings are low.
  • Your doctor may also have advised you to contact them to keep them updated with your results.
  • To get an accurate reading, remove nail polish or false nails of any sort from the finger being used.
  • It is also important to use the device on warm hands. If your hands are cold, try running them under warm water or rubbing them together.

Guidance on the results

During a severe breathing attack, it is possible to have a normal oxygen level. Seek medical help if you have severe shortness of breath, wheezing, or increased pulse rate, even if your oxygen saturation is normal.

If any of your readings are in the orange or red boxes below, you should seek advice according to that colour.

Oxygen Saturation (Sp02) %


Pulse rate

When resting. It is normal for the pulse rate to go up when exercising

Temperature Breathing  rate

Number of breaths taken in 1 minute

Normal readings 96% or more 50 – 100 36 – 37.5 10 – 16
Acceptable to continue home monitoring 95% or more Less  than 100 38 or less 21 or less
Seek GP or NHS111 advice 93% – 94% 100 – 110 38 – 39 22 – 24
Call 999 92% or less (unless given a different number by your GP) 111 or more More than 39 25 or more, or unable to talk in sentences

Last modified: May 15, 2020