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Pulse Oximeters; may yield inaccurate results, says Food and Drug Administration

Food and Drug Administration comes up with the report that Pulse oximeters, the devices used by healthcare professionals to measure blood oxygen levels may yield inaccurate results under some circumstances.

Healthcare professionals around the world solely relied on pulse oximeters to identify Covid patients who might need hospitalisation. The use continues till date and now the FDA has warned that the device may not always provide an accurate reading. FDA has also said that therefore the reading shouldn’t be considered the final indicator for diagnosis. A number of factors including poor circulation, skin pigmentation, skin thickness and temperature can affect the accuracy of the reading.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its coronavirus guidance to warn healthcare professionals. It said that the data from a number of studies suggest skin pigmentation can also affect the accuracy of oximeter readings. A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that the device may yield inaccurate readings for people with darker skin.

“The most current scientific evidence shows that there are some accuracy differences in pulse oximeters between dark and light skin pigmentation,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) listed the use of the pulse oximeter to identify Covid patients who may need to be hospitalised due to low oxygen levels. If the studies show that oximeter results are inaccurate, then there need to be a way on what to rely next.

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