Pulse oximeters are less accurate for Hispanics and black people

  • A recent study found that a key tool for reading blood oxygen can give inaccurate readings to black and Hispanic patients.
  • Pulse oximeters are placed on a person’s finger and can help monitor the level of oxygen in the blood.
  • These pulse oximeter readings can be essential for monitoring people with COVID-19.

New research has found that pulse oximetry readings — a tool used to measure blood oxygen saturation levels and guide treatment options for COVID-19 — were less accurate in black, Asian and Hispanic patients.

The studywas recently posted on JAMA Internal Medicinealso found that black and Hispanic patients were more likely to delay or not recognize treatment eligibility for COVID-19.

The findings add to previous research indicating that inaccurate pulse oximeter readings are more common among blacks and Hispanics, which can lead to life-threatening treatment delays.

certificate It consistently shows that black and Hispanic people are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released warning Pulse oximetry may be less accurate in people with dark skin pigmentation.

These and other studies show that pulse oximeter readings in people with pigmented skin can be lower than those in people with fair skin. Therefore, both providers and people who use pulse oximetry at home and for therapeutic interventions should be aware of this difference when using this data,” says Dr. Laura Vaughan, MD, MD, an internal medicine physician and clinical assistant professor of primary care medicine and population health at Stanford Medicine. .

The researchers evaluated the health data of 1,216 patients with oxygen saturation levels measured by two different tests — pulse oximetry and arterial blood gas — and found that oxygen levels were often overestimated among Asian, black, and Hispanic patients.

Oxygen saturation levels in black patients were overestimated by 1.2 percent compared with white patients. The levels of Hispanic patients were overestimated by 1.1 percent and Asian patients by 1.7 percent.

Black and Hispanic patients were also 29 percent and 23 percent less likely to be recognized as eligible for treatment than white patients.

The researchers also analyzed data on more than 6,500 patients with COVID-19 and, based on their findings, speculated that oxygen saturation levels in more than 1,900 patients were likely to be overstated, leading to delays and failures of life-saving treatments.

“The results of this study suggest that for critical treatment decisions that depend on arterial oxygen saturation, use of pulse oximetry may be insufficient and provide opportunities for overtreatment and overtreatment regardless of a patient’s race or ethnicity,” the study authors said.

Previous research identified racial biases in pulse oximeter readings.

a Report Published last year in JAMA Network is open found that inaccurate pulse oximetry readings increased the risk of death in black patients.

Another study published in Anesthesia & Engesia found that pulse oximetry overestimated oxygen levels in people with dark skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation.

Pulse oximeters – a device placed on a patient’s finger – are used to measure the amount of oxygen in red blood cells in emergency situations.

Oxygen saturation gives information about the amount of oxygen transported in the blood. A pulse oximeter can estimate the amount of oxygen in your blood without having to draw a blood sample,” says Dr. Geraldine Finley, MD, pulmonologist and deputy editor-in-chief in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UpToDate in Wolters Kluwer, Health.

The oxygen saturation of healthy people usually ranges from 95 to 100 percent.

According to Vaughan, oxygen levels with COVID are often the first sign of contraction.

Many COVID-19 patients have low oxygen levels, which is life threatening thing It can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion, and a fast heartbeat.

According to Finlay, some patients with low oxygen levels, or hypoxemia, may remain asymptomatic, which can lead to rapid deterioration.

according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pulse oximetry was also used to inform whether patients should start more aggressive treatments, such as the antiviral remdesivir or the corticosteroid dexamethasone, which were routinely given to patients with low oxygen levels during the pandemic.

Some current hospital treatment guidelines use oxygen saturation to determine delivery of these treatments. A delay in recognizing this decline can also lead to a delay in these treatments,” says Vaughan.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Multiple factors It can affect the accuracy of pulse oximeter readings, including poor circulation, skin pigmentation, skin thickness, skin temperature, tobacco use, and nail polish.

Pulse oximetry readings only estimate the patient’s blood oxygen saturation. A pulse oximeter’s 90 percent saturation may reflect an oxygen saturation of 86 to 94 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Health care providers must make diagnosis and treatment decisions based on multiple pulse oximeter readings to get a more accurate view of a patient’s oxygen saturation levels.

Vaughan says health care providers should be aware of inconsistencies in people with darker skin and take this into account in their decisions for further evaluation and treatment.

Hospitals should facilitate open discussion to help promote awareness among clinicians and health care professionals about the overreliance on pulse oximetry for clinical decision making. Care teams must be armed with the knowledge and awareness of how health care leaves health gaps and disparities for black patients,” says Finley.

New research has found that pulse oximetry readings — a tool used to measure blood oxygen saturation levels and guide treatment options for COVID-19 — were less accurate in black, Asian and Hispanic patients. Because of these discrepancies, non-white patients are more likely to experience delays in life-saving treatments. Doctors hope health care providers will take these findings into account when treating black, Hispanic and Asian people with COVID.


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