For the last 30 years in medicine, we have used a fifth vital sign. So, the standard vital signs of heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate, we’ve added a fifth vital sign. That fifth vital sign is pulse oximetry. And what it does is it measures the saturation of oxygen in the blood. And what I noticed while working in New York is these patients came in with alarmingly low oxygen saturations, but they did not, subjectively, actually feel short of breath.
if you’ve interacted with the healthcare system at all in the last 30 years, you’ve had a small probe placed on your finger. In the hospital, those probes connect up to our monitors. But there also now fingertip versions of this. And these devices are very inexpensive, and they are widely available. They are present or ready on every ambulance, in every hospital, in every doctor’s office, actually in every nursing home. They exist widely. And this device gives you two numbers. It gives you a heart rate, and it gives you an oxygen saturation.
— source democracynow.org | May 04, 2020