Pulse oximetry

‘The machine that goes beep.’

‘The secret to surviving surgery in a little yellow box’.

Since 2011 we’ve heard every description of a pulse oximeter, and delivered more than 20,000 to hospitals across 100 countries.

But two things don’t change: pulse oximetry is a minimum standard for safe anaesthesia, and it’s still missing from tens of thousands of operating rooms around the world.

Millions of lives are at risk.

A pulse oximeter is the only piece of equipment listed on the Checklist. It monitors the level of oxygen in your blood, sounding an alarm at the slightest change. It gives healthcare workers life-saving seconds to act before organ failure, brain injury, and death.

At Lifebox, we believe that every patient deserves a safer anaesthesia, and we’re closing the pulse oximetry gap. But we’ve got no interest in adding to the equipment graveyard – so we follow some very important steps.

Computers sitting in an equipment warehouse

User-centered design: up to 70% of medical equipment in low-resource settings is out of use. Wrong plug, too frail, lack of biomedical engineering. Expensive purchase or generous donation – but totally useless.
Surgery by torch light at Juba Teaching Hospital_2010_Sudan

The Lifebox oximeter is designed for the challenges it’ll face every working day in low-resource settings. Robust and intuitive, it doesn’t need recalibration and runs off rechargeable batteries.
AAGBI donation, Black Lion, Addis_2011_Ethiopia_chain of hope (1)

And when the anaesthesia provider has a question, our multi-language education materials sent with each box help guide safer decisions.
Needs assessment screenshot

We work with our partners to assess local and regional gaps in access, to ensure we send the right number of oximeters to make a measurable impact in safety.
Mozambique_questions from the audience

Because we know equipment doesn’t save lives – the people who use it do. Our oximeters are primarily delivered through peer-led training workshops, building community support, professional leaders – and empowered, educated teams.
Zambia delegate map

How do we know? Because we’re part of a global community working to make surgery safer, and we stay in touch. Email, phone, person – monitoring and evaluation is critical for ensuring Lifebox oximeters keep working and the training stays current.