The British Public Health Service (NHS) on Saturday revised its instructions for the use of pulse oximeters, indicating that these devices used to measure the level of oxygen in the blood in Covid-19 patients could give "
”for patients with dark skin.
In a statement, the NHS explains that the change comes after a study in April of its Race and Health Observatory, which found that pulse oximeters
blood oxygen levels for women. people with darker skin color
”, thus leading to a“
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Pulse oximeters, often used at home to monitor possible degradation, work by sending a light through the skin to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood, the NHS explains.
A misleading figure can thus delay hospitalization or oxygen intake, even as black patients or other ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in the UK.
We must ensure that we have knowledge of the potential limits of certain health equipment, in particular for populations at increased risk of the disease,
" said Dr. Habib Naqvi, director of the Observatory of race and health, "
which includes various black and Asian communities who use pulse oximeters to monitor their home oxygen levels.
The new NHS guidelines, published on its website, point to this possible dysfunction, but encourage "
dark-skinned patients who have received a pulse oximeter to continue using it
He now recommends paying more attention to changes between readings than to the numbers given, which makes it possible to "
always see if the oxygen levels are decreasing, even if the oximeter is not completely accurate
This potential dysfunction is particularly worrying given the fact that black, Asian and other ethnic minorities living in the United Kingdom, overrepresented in occupations exposed to contamination (transport or health services), have a much greater risk of die from coronavirus than average, according to several studies.
This excess mortality from the coronavirus among minorities results "
from the structural injustices, inequalities and discrimination which ravage our society
", concluded a parliamentary report at the end of October.