Pulse Oximeter Accuracy Depends on One’s Skin Color

Pulse Oximeter

Thanks to Covid-19 pulse oximeters have become a household name with huge sales figures of the makers of it. Used to measure oxygen levels in the blood, accuracy of measurement still remains a big question among the clinical fraternity, especially when it comes to people of color. Yes, it is a surprising fact. If pulse oximeter accuracy readings were really accurate, then the fatality and havoc that the pandemic caused would have been half avoided.

A test conducted on a Hispanic man in his 50s affected by Covid could not be saved since his pulse oximeter accuracy readings were inaccurate and an arterial blood test had to be conducted to show the oxygen level in his blood, when his condition worsened. This proved people with more melanin have much higher chances of health hazards leading to death by using pulse oximeter accuracy readings as a vital detector of problems. Wrong readings delay in treatment, hospitalization especially in areas with limited health care access which is mostly amongst people of racial and ethnic groups. In February 2021 FDA accepted the problem of inaccurate readings of pulse oximeters, warning people with dark pigmentation about the issue. Read more from this article by Dr A. Ian Wong, a critical care specialist and pulmonologist from North Carolina.

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