Everyone has been there. Cell phone battery critically low, racing home before it dies completely. You plug in the wall charger, plug in your phone with a sigh of relief.
But nothing happens.
You unplug it from the wall and plug it back in again.
Now, frantically you begin to wiggle the cord, wiggle the charger, wiggle the prongs of the plug.
Now, imagine instead of your cell phone you are trying to plug a pulse oximeter into your machine to read the oxygen saturation on a six-month-old infant with pneumonia. Suddenly, instead of missing your shows on Netflix, you are missing important vital signs that are essential to accurate treatment decisions.
The Mechanics of Pulse Oximeter Cables
Before we can look at the mechanics of pulse oximeter cables, it is important to understand how a pulse oximeter works. A pulse oximeter uses infrared light and a light sensor to measure oxygenated blood in a patient's finger, toe, hand or foot. In seconds, healthcare providers have an accurate measurement of the amount of oxygenated hemoglobin in a person's bloodstream without waiting for lab results or performing invasive tests. Pulse oximeter cables connect the sensor that is placed on the patient to the machine that measures and interprets light flow through a patient's skin.
This complex series of wires has a protective outer coating with two plugs on either end. When it functions correctly readings are almost immediate. However, when there is a short in one of the wires or the plug becomes loose from the rest of the cable, the pulse oximeter is as useful as your smartphone with no battery. Having a spare pulse oximeter cable on hand can effectively limit the downtime of these vital machines and ensure your patient outcomes remain positive.