The oximeter is racist: it works badly with blacks

Since the first months of the pandemic we had told you about the oximeter, a useful tool for keeping blood oxygenation monitored from home. However, the British National Health Service (NHS) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) denounce a serious limitation: the device would in fact overestimate the blood oxygenation in those with darker skin, with potentially serious consequences for those who rely on to the instrument, he can thus underestimate his own respiratory and pulmonary condition of that moment.

A matter of light. “I bought an oximeter to monitor my blood oxygenation level, but when they admitted me to the hospital the doctors told me it was already late, despite the fact that everything was under control for the device,” explains Ranjit Senghera Marwaha, a patient of origin. Indians who have experienced the malfunction of the instrument on their own skin. According to experts, the problem could be skin pigmentation: the oximeter emits small beams of light that pass through the blood, and the dark tone of the epidermis seems to affect how the light is absorbed.

It is important to know. “We need to make sure everyone knows this limit,” said Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, urging patients of Asian, Black and other minorities to continue using the pulse oximeter, but always refer to a professional sanitary. The data shows that people of these ethnic groups are more prone to contract covid in a severe and fatal form, and experts believe that pulse oximeter errors could be a factor. “It is essential to conduct new studies to ensure reliable pulse oximeters for everyone, regardless of skin color,” concludes Naqvi.



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