Asian, Black, Hispanic Patients More Likely Pulse Oximetry (SPO2) Readings

Lower average oxygen delivery rates were seen in association with Asian, Black, Hispanic versus White race, and ethnicity.

Asian, Black, and Hispanic patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) have higher average pulse oximetry (SpO2) readings than White patients. According to a study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, they receive less supplemental oxygen.

Eric Raphael Gottlieb, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study to examine whether there are racial and ethnic disparities in supplemental oxygen administration associated with inconsistent pulse oximeter performance. A total of 3,069 Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White patients were admitted to the ICU for at least 12 hours before needing advanced respiratory support. The primary outcome was a time-weighted average supplemental oxygen rate.

The researchers found that for a given hemoglobin oxygen saturation, Asian, Black, and Hispanic race and ethnicity were associated with a higher SpO2 (coefficients, 0.602, 0.919, and 0.622, respectively).

A lower average oxygen delivery rate was seen in association with Asian, Black, and Hispanic race and ethnicity (coefficients, −0.291, −0.294, and −0.242, respectively). Race and ethnicity were not associated with oxygen delivery rate when controlling for the discrepancy between average SpO2 and average hemoglobin oxygen saturation. The effect of race and ethnicity was mediated by this discrepancy (−0.157).

“To date, there has been limited interest in solving the problems inherent in pulse oximeters, but we show that these measurements are clinically relevant and pose a real problem that needs to be solved,” Gottlieb said in a statement.

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