Medical Monitors: A Complete Buying Guide

Medical Monitors: A Complete Buying Guide

Surgeon with medical monitors

Did you know that there are approximately 22,000 preventable deaths each year in the United States? Most of these deaths happen from costly medical errors. With our hospital systems straining more than ever, quality medical monitors can make or break it for facilities.

These medical-grade monitors can help diagnose, treat, and monitor patients accurately. Understanding the different types of monitors out there can help you determine what your facility needs. 

If you have an interest in learning about medical monitors and their benefits, keep reading on!

What Are Medical Monitors?

At its core – a medical-grade monitor displays high-quality imaging or information for hospital or clinic use. Typically, these medical monitoring devices have better brightness, capabilities, and imaging than standard or commercial grade monitors.

Medical monitors are helpful in a variety of settings, including:

  • Radiology
  • Inpatient
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Operating rooms
  • Outpatient clinics

The type of monitor you need in an inpatient setting or operating room may differ from those required in outpatient clinics. Additionally, technology has improved to the point that many people are turning towards wireless or remote monitoring. 

Some examples of this include the Apple Watch and FitBit. Cardiologists can also send patients home with remote EKG readings to assess their day-to-day health better. 

Other examples of medical monitors include:

  • Vital signs monitors
  • Telemetry or patient monitors
  • EKGs
  • Capnography
  • Pulse oximeter

How do you know which one your clinic or hospital needs? Understanding a complete breakdown of each type can help you determine the best hospital medical monitoring solution.

Vital Sign Monitors

As it sounds – vital sign monitors look at your core vitals such as:

  • Oxygen saturation levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Temperature
  • ECG and pulse
  • Respiration rate

With these devices, blood pressure readings are completed non-invasively. Some designs also allow smooth transport between rooms with their new, lightweight models. These basic vital sign monitors are not equipped for a 12-lead ECG.

Additionally, you can purchase add-ons for CO2 measurements since the basic models do not calculate this critical level. Where are these monitors most useful in?

In hospitals, you can find in-depth vital sign medical devices, specifically in inpatient facilities or ICUs. Depending on the location, you will also find them in operating rooms or transitional rehab facilities. 

If you work in an area with relatively medically stable patients, this might be too in-depth for your needs. It is also unlikely you will consistently use a full vital sign monitor in outpatient clinics. 

However, you may encounter a portable vital sign monitor on a cart in doctor’s offices. This can often be used for monitoring quick blood pressure, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation reading. 

Patient Monitors

Patient monitors are similar to basic vital sign devices. The only difference in some companies that offer patient monitors is that you have a more extensive selection. You may find ones that offer larger screens or capabilities for add-ons. 

Quality patient monitors can include critical medical monitoring attachments such as:

  • End-tidal CO2 (ETCO2)
  • Cardiac output
  • Anesthetic agents
  • Invasive blood pressure

These monitors will also have all the basic vital measurement modes listed under vital sign monitors. When you pick which one you want, the main difference between brands is primarily based on size. 

Some of the different-sized monitor screens you may encounter are:

  • 7-inch
  • 10.1-inch
  • 10.5-inch
  • 12.1-inch
  • 15-inch

Larger screen displays may be helpful for ergonomic features with staff. You can also opt for different mounting hardware to pull the monitor towards you for a closer look. 

Monitors with long-lasting batteries that have various mounting options and smaller screens 10 inches and below often make the ideal portable patient monitor for changing conditions, rooms, and transport. 

EKG Monitors

EKG stands for electrocardiogram, and an EKG monitor gives you an electrocardiograph. Typically, these are 12-lead machines with a touch screen or digital display. 

How does this differ from other vital signs or patient monitors? Basic patient monitors have capabilities of registering an EKG, but it is usually only a four to six-lead reading. 

A 12-lead reading is a golden standard in cardiology, and many physicians will want an accurate electrocardiograph before implementing treatment plans. If you purchase an EKG monitor, you want to make sure that it has a few key characteristics, like:

  • Portability
  • Broad frequency
  • Diagram for electrode placements
  • Different file formats
  • Management software

If you work in a facility that handles geriatric and pediatric cases, you want an EKG monitor with enough sensitivity to capture accurate EKG readings for both scenarios. 

Your facility or hospital needs an EKG if you want accurate readings that detect cardiac abnormalities, such as:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Impaired blood flow
  • Heart attack
  • Enlarged heart
  • Electrolyte levels

Setting up an EKG is an easy process. Additionally, if you have a quality monitor, you can transfer patient information legally between health portals. The smooth transition of patient data and EKG readings make it ideal for sister facilities and other networks to have the same quality brand for ease of transfer with patient data. 

Capnography Monitors

Medical monitoring devices can check for end-tidal CO2 levels. These particular measurements are critical for patients on ventilators or who have a respiratory illness or diagnosis. 

A capnography monitor checks the total amount of carbon dioxide a patient exhales. In emergency departments, these monitors can give quality indicators for obstructive lung diseases. 

For example, patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will have higher levels of ETCO2 than the average patient. It gives an overall indicator of how well the patient is breathing. 

These monitors are also helpful for patients about to undergo surgery. It can also be used with cardiac monitoring and help patients wean off of a ventilator.

In one study, researchers found that more than 70% of ICU deaths from airway obstructions did not use capnography machines. It is strongly suggested that healthcare workers implement capnography monitors for all types of intensive units in the hospital.

Patients who require an endotracheal tube should be closely monitored with this type of patient monitor. A capnography monitor also holds other uses such as:

  • Pulse oximeter
  • Blood pressure
  • Temperature

Usually, the blood pressure and temperature components are just brief checks. It does not solely replace an in-depth patient monitor. 

Other Medical Monitors

Outside of medical monitoring devices, there is also a realm of monitors meant for viewing images. Most of these fall under the classification of a medical-grade monitor for radiology.

Radiology is constantly using monitors for viewing X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging. Medical grade monitors are critical in accurately providing assessments. 

You want something that factors in ergonomics, high-resolution, and easy-to-use interface. Some computers and programs can also assist in diagnosing or highlighting areas of concern. 

When looking for a medical monitor for radiology, make sure you also check out the software capability. High-performance monitors will greatly impact reducing medical errors and improving treatment times. 

It can also simplify the process of sharing information across data systems. Another critical area is capnography monitoring during intubation

When someone undergoes endotracheal intubation, a high-quality monitor and video help physicians quickly and efficiently place a life-saving alternate airway. 

Wireless Medical Monitoring Equipment

Most medical monitoring equipment has wireless capabilities. Even larger patient monitor devices have portable batteries that can easily disconnect. 

Other wireless devices include remote equipment. Remote equipment includes:

  • Bluetooth scales
  • Watches
  • Glucose monitors
  • EKG holsters or belts

This field is constantly advancing, and there are more tools than ever before for remote monitoring. They aren’t as accurate as medical monitors found in a hospital, and aren’t particularly ideal when working with critical patients. 

They might be useful recommendations when patients discharge home. However, in a facility, you want the benefit of these remote and portable pieces of equipment.

Be sure and look for monitors that provide easy, portable access and can be mounted to different carriers. Also, look at the specs to show you how much the monitor weighs. 

Ideally, you want something manageable for your staff members and won’t be more cumbersome than what the cost is worth. 

Find Medical Grade Monitors

Medical monitors are crucial pieces of equipment that can reduce medical errors, improve treatment plans, and reduce complications. Finding medical grade monitors can sometimes be challenging. 

When you broaden your searches, you want something reliable, efficient, and cost-friendly. If you have a facility that could benefit from a variety of different patient monitors, check out our website today. 


Surgeon with medical monitors


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