How a Popular Medical Device Encodes Racial Bias

Pulse oximeters give biased results for people with darker skin. The consequences could be serious.

COVID-19 care has brought the pulse oximeter to the home, it’s a medical device that helps to understand your oxygen saturation levels. This article examines research that shows oximetry’s racial bias. Oximeters have been calibrated, tested and developed using light-skinned individuals. For a non-white person, inaccurate readings could be fatal.