Podcast 659: Racial Bias in Pulse Oximetry - The Emergency Medical Minute

Podcast 659: Racial Bias in Pulse Oximetry

Contributor:  Aaron Lessen, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Study in NEJM looked at occult hypoxemia, when oxygen saturation reads at >92% when the actual saturation is <88%
  • Rate of occult hypoxemia was 3 times higher in those who identified as black (12% vs 4%)
  • Keep this disparity in mind when providing care to patients of all backgrounds and incorporate into clinical decision-making


Sjoding MW, Dickson RP, Iwashyna TJ, Gay SE, Valley TS. Racial Bias in Pulse Oximetry Measurement. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(25):2477-2478. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2029240

Summarized by John Spartz, MS3 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD


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