According to multiple studies and administration health agencies, the small device that observes oxygen levels may not work well for an individual with dark skin.
Pulse oximeters, which have upsurged in use during the lethal coronavirus pandemic, may surrender inaccurate results, the US Food and Drug Administration warned Friday.
Earlier in the week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also updated its coronavirus clinical supervision to warn doctors and nurses that data from various studies suggest skin pigmentation can affect the devices’ efficiency.
“While pulse oximeters may be beneficial for estimating blood oxygen levels, these devices have restrictions that can result in fallacious readings,” Dr. William Maisel, director of the Office of Product Evaluation and Quality in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a declaration.
Pulse oximeters are small clamp-like tools that attach painlessly to a patient’s finger and continuously monitor the oxygen volume in their blood.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and it means that it attacks the lungs first, so low oxygen levels sign an inmate may be getting worse.
CDC data reveals Black, Latino, and Native Americans are four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than others.
The recent information comes after a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the month of December.
Dr. Michael Sjoding and various colleagues from the University of Michigan analyzed data from over 10,000 patients.
They studied the oxygen levels reported by a pulse oximeter to those held by arterial blood gas, a much more reliable but painful and invasive procedure for each patient.
The scientists wanted to know how often the pulse oximeter showed a relatively standard oxygen level when it should have been designating something more regarding.
In White inmates, the pulse oximeter gave a misleading figure 3.6% of the time.
In Black patients, it was 11.7% of the time. Dr. Sjoding says that the takeaway is that pulse oximeters were three times as likely to miss significantly low oxygen levels or hypoxemia in Black patients.
The study recommends one in every 10 Black patients may be getting deceptive results.
Pulse oximeters work by sending two types of red light through your finger. A detector on the other side of the device picks up this light and uses it to identify your blood’s color; bright red blood is highly oxygenated, while blue or purplish blood is less.
If the device isn’t calibrated for darker skin, the pigmentation could affect how the light is consumed. Dark nail polish can cause a similar effect.