Great Britain | Devices to fight COVID-19 that are not suitable for dark skin

(London) The UK’s Public Health Service (NHS) on Saturday revised its guidelines for the use of pulse oximeters, pointing out that these devices, which are used to measure the oxygen level in the blood of COVID-19 patients, are “deceptive for patients Values ​​“could deliver with dark skin.

Posted on Jul 31, 2021 at 12:16 pm

In a statement, the NHS said the change was a result of an April study by the Race and Health Observatory that found pulse oximeters sometimes “raised” blood oxygen levels in women with darker skin. misleading reading ”.

Pulse oximeters, often used in the home to monitor possible breakdown, work by sending a light through the skin to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood, explains the NHS.

A misleading number can therefore delay hospitalization or oxygen consumption even if black patients or other ethnic minorities in the UK are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

“We need to make sure we understand the potential limitations of certain health devices, especially for populations at increased risk of disease,” said Dr. Habib Naqvi, Director of the Race and Health Observatory, “To which various black and Asian communities use pulse oximeters to monitor their home oxygen levels. ”

The new NHS guidelines posted on its website warn of this possible dysfunction but encourage “dark-skinned patients who have received a pulse oximeter to keep using it”.

He now recommends paying more attention to the changes between measurements than the numbers given, which makes it possible “to always see whether the oxygen level is falling, even if the oximeter is not entirely accurate”.

This potential dysfunction is of particular concern as black, Asian and other ethnic minorities living in the UK and over-represented in occupations exposed to contamination (transportation or health services) are said to be at a much higher risk of dying from coronavirus than the average of various studies.

This excess mortality from the coronavirus among minorities results “from the structural injustices, inequalities and discrimination that devastate our society,” concluded a parliamentary report at the end of October.

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