© 2024 WEMU
Serving Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, MI
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

FDA reviews work of Ann Arbor doctor, who found false oxygen readings with Black patients

Photo of person with African American skin tone using a pulse oximeter.
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Photo of person with African American skin tone using a pulse oximeter.

An Ann Arbor doctor is being credited with research that could change the way oxygen levels are registered for people of color.

It was during the height of COVID, when patients from the Detroit area were being transferred to the University of Michigan medical facility that pulmonologist and internal medicine professor Michael Sjodingstarted noticing some serious discrepancies between the severity of patient’s breathing and how they registered their oxygen levels on the pulse oximeter. That’s the little clip put on a finger to measure oxygen levels.

For some of these patients, he requested blood work to determine their actual blood/oxygen levels. And he found that patients with dark skin color had more false readings than those with light skin color.

“The pulse oximeter missing serious low oxygen two or three times as often in Black patients.

That research is now in the hands of the FDA, which is now contemplating new regulations in how pulse oximeters are designed and tested.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU todayto keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

Cathy Shafran was WEMU's afternoon news anchor and local host during WEMU's broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered.
Related Content