BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual

Home Pulse Oximetry


Pulse oximetry measures oxygen saturation levels using a noninvasive probe which provides an estimate of arterial oxyhemoglobin saturation (SaO2), using selected wavelengths of light, to determine the saturation of oxyhemoglobin (SpO2). A home pulse oximeter is considered durable medical equipment and can provide a single SaO2 or a continuous reading (trending) of an individual’s oxygenation.

Pulse oximetry is considered a safe procedure, but has device limitation. Inaccurate readings may result from interference from ambient light, highly pigmented skin, low perfusion states, and motion artifact. False-negative results for hypoemia and/or false-positive results for normal oxygen saturation may lead to inappropriate treatment of an individual. In addition, tissue injury may occur at the site of the probe, as a result of inappropriate use (e.g., pressure sores from prolonged application or electrical shock and burns from the substitution of incompatible probes between instruments).

Note: This policy exists for the purpose of supporting the Reimbursement Guidelines for Home Pulse Oximetry.





Differing from continuous or trending oximetry a ‘spot’ pulse oximetry check is a single measurement of oxygen saturation to provide adjunctive information for the clinician. It may be included with other routine vital signs (e.g., temperature, pulse, and blood pressure) obtained as part of a general assessment. (Note: spot sat checks should never utilize the HCPCS code E1399.)


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American Academy of Pediatrics. (2014). Clinical practice guideline: the diagnosis, management and prevention of bronchoiolitis. Pediatrics, 134:e1474-e1502.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Clinical report: apnea of prematurity. Retrieved March 12, 2018 from

American Association of Respiratory Care. (2012). AARC clinical practice guideline: transcutaneous monitoring of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Respiratory Care, 57 (11), 1955-1962.

American College of Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and European Respiratory Society. (2011, August) Diagnosis and management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a clinical practice guideline update. Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

American Thoracic Society. (2005, December) Statement on home care for patients with respiratory disorders. Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

American Thoracic Society. (2015). Appropriate candidates for long term oxygen therapy. Retrieved May 18, 2016 from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CGS Administrators, LLC. (20148, August) Oxygen and oxygen equipment (LCD ID: L33797). Retrieved January 22, 2019 from

Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (2018) Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: 2018 report. Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

Janssens, J., Borel, J., Pepin, J., and Somno, VNI. (2014, February). Nocturnal monitoring of home non-invasive ventilation: contribution of simple tools such as pulse-oximetry, capnography, built-in ventilator software and autonomic markers of sleep fragmentation. Revue des Maladies Respiratoires, 31 (2), 107-18. Abstract retrieved January 23, 2019 from PubMed database.

Marcus, C., Brooks, L., Draper, K., Gozal, D., Halbower, A., Jones, J., et al. (2012, September). Diagnosis and management of childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Pediatrics, 130 (3), 714-55. Abstract retrieved January 23, 2019 from PubMed database.

Nardi, J., Prigent, H., Adala, A., Bohic, M., Lebargy, F., Quera-Salva, M.A. (2012). Nocturnal oximetry and transcutaneous carbon dioxide in home-ventilated neuromuscular patients. Respiratory Care, 57 (9), 1425-1430. (Level 4 evidence)

Pavone, M., Cutrera, R., Verrillo, E., Salerno, T., Soldini, S., & Brouillette, R. T. (2013). Night-to-night consistence of at-home nocturnal pulse oximetry testing for obstructive sleep apnea in children. Pediatric Pulmonology, 48 (8), 754-760. Abstract retrieved May 20, 2016 from PubMed database.

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (2004, March). Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Pre-market Notification Database. K031487. (Avant® 2120). Retrieved January 23, 2019 from

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Walsh, B and Smallwood, C. (2017, June). Pediatric oxygen therapy: a review and update.  Respiratory Care, 62 (6), 645-661. (Level 5 evidence - expert opinion)

Welsh, E. J., & Carr, R. (2015, September). Pulse oximeters to self-monitor oxygen saturation levels as part of a personalized asthma action plan for people with asthma. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 9, CD011584.  Abstract retrieved May 18, 2016 from PubMed database.



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