Thu. May 30th, 2024


  • A recent UK government-commissioned report found racial and ethnic bias in pulse oximeters.
  • The study identified that biases in health technology can lead to patient harm if not addressed.

A recent UK government-commissioned report delved into the racial and ethnic biases present in health technology, focusing on pulse oximeters, a widely used device during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, conducted over 15 months, highlighted the potential harms of biases in medical devices and their impact on patient care. The report specifically pointed out the lack of diversity in data used to develop and test these devices, resulting in inaccurate readings for individuals with darker skin tones. This bias extends to other medical devices as well, such as AI-assisted tools and polygenic risk scores.

The study emphasized the need for more diverse representation in data sets and called for increased transparency from developers, ongoing monitoring by regulators, and regular feedback from healthcare providers to address these biases. The UK government has accepted and pledged to implement all recommendations laid out in the report to ensure equitable healthcare for all individuals, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

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