Quick Guide To Reading Vital Signs Monitoring Equipment

If you’re new to the medical field, a loved one is experiencing health issues, or you are just curious to learn more about monitoring equipment, we’re here to help you learn more!

All States M.E.D. is dedicated to delivering the best equipment and the most high-quality customer service to all medical professionals in every field. Here is a quick guide to reading vital signs monitoring equipment.


When you look at a vital signs monitor, you will see lots of numbers, lines, and data that may seem complicated to understand. However, the numbers are essentially providing basic information like:

  • Heart rate (HR)
  • Blood pressure (BP)
  • Oxygen saturation (spO2)
  • Respiratory rate (RR)

Your heart rate, otherwise known as “HR,” is usually displayed at the top of the monitor in a green color. It may also be presented as “PR” (pulse rate). This number represents how many smartwatches measure your heart: BPM (beats per minute). Heart rates can change for a number of reasons, so be sure to keep an eye on this measurement.

A healthy blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg. When looking at the vital signs monitor, you will notice this measurement displayed underneath “SYST” or “SYS” (systolic).

Oxygen saturation is essentially the measurement of hemoglobin relative to the total hemoglobin in the patient’s blood. The number for this vital sign is placed under “spO2”. Normal oxygen saturation is typically 95% or higher.

The respiratory rate will show under “RR,” and similar to heart rate, it can be measured in BPM (breaths per minute).


The waves shown on a patient monitor represent a few common measurements:

  • ECG strip
  • SpO2 waveform
  • Respiratory waveform

The ECG strip is not meant to display complete data regarding the patient’s lead (it is typically lead II). This measurement is helpful during minor resuscitation, as it provides data on the electrical activity of the heart.

If the patient is experiencing issues with their circulation, you might find the SpO2 waveform data. It is important to note that each wave should match with every heartbeat.

The respiratory waveform is useful in cases of measuring any issues within the respiratory system, like apnea or dyspnea.


If the monitor sounds an alarm and flashes the screen, it may not be what you think. Most commonly, the monitor simply is not receiving information and will alert the staff with an alarm. But it is always critical to check the patient and ensure they are okay throughout the reading.

Be sure to maintain your vital signs monitoring equipment by thoroughly inspecting it routinely to ensure it is in top shape before utilizing it on a patient.

This quick guide to reading vital signs monitoring equipment can help you provide excellent care to your patients or loved ones and includes vital skills every medical professional must have.