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The Pulse Oximeter, a Key COVID-19 Tool, Is Less Effective in Black Patients

For patients with symptomatic COVID-19, the at-home use of a pulse oximeter can help make the decision on when an emergency department visit is prudent. Additionally, these trusty blood oxygen monitors are used throughout healthcare settings to help providers develop appropriate treatment plans. A new study, however, shows that pulse oximeters are not as effective when used on patients with darker skin tones. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrate that among Black individuals, the device gives misleading results in one out of every 10 patients. This information is seen as particularly discouraging as people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

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