FDA Warning: Don’t Use Pulse Oximeters To Diagnose Or Rule Out COVID-19
Pulse oximeters have been in high demand since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic last year.
A device used to measure blood oxygen levels, doctors around the world relied on it to identify coronavirus patients who need hospitalization during the global pandemic.
But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now warned that the oximeter may well give inaccurate results under some circumstances, and hence should not be used to diagnose or rule out COVID-19.
FDA has recommended looking out for other indicators of low oxygen, like bluish colour of face, lips, or nails, a racing pulse or restlessness and discomfort.
Without ruling out the utility of the oximeter in estimating blood oxygen levels, FDA has observed that its limitations should be considered.
Factors like poor circulation, skin pigmentation, skin thickness and temperature can affect the accuracy of oximeter’s reading.
“The most current scientific evidence shows that there are some accuracy differences in pulse oximeters between dark and light skin pigmentation,” FDA said in a statement.
In January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) listed the use of the pulse oximeter to identify Covid patients who may need to be hospitalised due to low oxygen levels.