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Vital sign monitors began with Seymour B. London, an American physician and inventor from Florida who designed the first automatic blood pressure monitor. He created an automated blood pressure machine after finding constant manual blood pressure readings cumbersome. The physician designed his prototype using a blood pressure cuff, a column of mercury, a microphone and a fish tank pump. While his materials may have been unconventional, his research technique was anything but; he then tested the device on 400 doctors at a 1965 American Medical Association convention. He demonstrated there was no significant difference from vital sign monitoring versus hand-taken blood pressure readings.

Today, vital sign monitors are used everywhere from hospital operating rooms to emergency situations. Vital sign monitors have continued to evolve through the development of technologies including digital signal processing, and new sensors that more accurately read the measurements, blood pressure, electric heart signals, blood oxygen, and temperature.

Vital signs monitors allow enable healthcare workers to efficiently, accurately and quickly evaluate their patients, whether in a hospital or office setting. Whether vital sign monitors are used for a single purpose or to measure all of a patient's vital signs, today's technology renders these diagnostic tools compact and accurate. A basic vital signs monitor is also highly portable, and even available for in-home use. Utilizing vital signs monitors affords knowledge of important information about a patient's health. They are vital in assessing a patient's overall condition. The more unstable a vital sign monitor shows a patient's signs to be, the more seriously ill that patient is. Typically, vital signs monitors measure a patient's main bodily functions including temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, blood pressure and lastly, blood oxygen levels.

Modern vital sign monitors are used everywhere, even outside of a standard medical setting. They can be utilized for in-home care, administered by team physicians for professional athletes on the playing fields, and they are in ever-increasing use in a doctor's office.

Still, for the most part, vital sign monitors are used either in operating rooms, by nurses in hospital recovery rooms, or for the consistent, long-term monitoring of patients under long term care. They're also used frequently by paramedics and emergency room staff, when trauma victims of necessity need the closest monitoring.

A new monitoring system designed to indicate patient vital signs was recently invented. The Remote Physiology Monitoring (RPM) is a portable device that is extraordinarily mobile and can be operated remotely.

Compared to heavy equipment used at home and hospitals in decades past, modern devices are much faster, primarily digital, non-invasive and often combine several analytic features into a single small device.