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A key device in the Covid-19 battle, the pulse oximeter may not work on dark skin

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that pulse oximeters are limited and risk inaccuracies in certain situations.

Along hindustantimes.com Edited by Kunal Gaurav, New Delhi

Published on IST at 4:10 pm on February 21, 2021

Because some patients experience dangerously low levels of oxygen, pulse oximeters have become an essential tool for healthcare professionals to combat the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. The Aam Aadmi party-led Government of Delhi distributed thousands of oximeters to patients isolated at home to check oxygen levels and help minimize pressure on hospitals.

However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, lightweight devices used to monitor blood oxygen levels can have inaccurate results for people with dark skin. The US federal agency on Friday said pulse oximetry helps calculate blood oxygen levels, but pulse oximeters have limitations and risk inaccuracies in certain situations.

Emphasizes that multiple factors can affect the accuracy of oximeter measurements, including skin pigmentation, skin thickness, skin temperature, current tobacco use, and even nail polish use. Did. “Patients with conditions like Covid-19 who monitor their condition at home need to pay attention to all signs and symptoms of their condition and communicate their concerns to their healthcare providers,” the FDA said in a statement. It is stated in.

Read | The study found heart damage in a Covid-19 patient discharged from the hospital

Elaborating on other signs and symptoms, authorities advised that patients should pay attention to the bluish color of the face, lips, or nails, shortness of breath, chest pain, and pulse rate. “Please note that some patients with low oxygen levels may not show some or all of these symptoms. It is medical care that can diagnose conditions such as hypoxia (hypoxia). Only those who are. “

The FDA’s warning occurs days after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), citing limited data from a study with few participants, and skin pigmentation affects the accuracy of pulse oximeters. Said there is a possibility. The authors of a study published in December 2020 defined latent hypoxemia as a disruption between arterial oxygen saturation and pulse oximetry almost three times more often in black patients than in white patients. Reported that it was not detected by pulse oximetry.

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