NBC News reported:
Black and Latino patients experienced significant delays in obtaining life-saving COVID-19 treatments due to a popular medical device that inaccurately reads darker skin tones, according to a study released last week in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The report shows that pulse oximeters, a device that clips onto a person’s fingertips and reads oxygen levels, is more likely to produce inaccurate results in Black, Latino and Asian Americans than in white patients. The device can make patients of color appear healthier than they actually are, researchers said.
“Not only less accurate, but in particular, more optimistic,” Tianshi David Wu, a co-lead author of the study and assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, told NBC News. “In this study we found that minority patients appeared healthier than they really were based on this bias in pulse oximetry.”