Pulse Oximetry Bias in Darker Skins

Published: 24th June 2024
Nonin Onyx 9590: Accurate readings across all skin pigmentations

In recent years, pulse oximetry has become an essential tool in monitoring patients’ oxygen levels, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, emerging research has highlighted a significant concern: the potential bias in pulse oximetry readings for patients with darker skin tones. This bias can lead to inaccurate assessments, delayed treatments, and ultimately, adverse health outcomes. As we strive for equality and accuracy in healthcare, it is crucial to understand the extent of this issue, its implications, and the how to address it:

Findings from Recent Studies

eBioMedicine Study:
A recent independent study published in eBioMedicine compared 11 commercially available fingertip pulse oximeters. The results were concerning, revealing that 10 out of the 11 devices demonstrated lower accuracy in dark-skinned subjects. This finding underscores the urgent need for more inclusive and reliable medical devices.

New England Journal of Medicine Study:
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine further corroborated these findings. It concluded that Black patients experienced nearly three times the frequency of occult hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels undetected by pulse oximetry) compared to White patients. This highlights the potential risks posed by inaccurate readings in darker-skinned individuals.


Nonin Onyx 9590: A Reliable Solution

Among the 11 devices evaluated in the eBioMedicine study, the Nonin Onyx 9590 stood out as the only device to meet the current FDA ARMS guidelines across all skin pigmentations. It demonstrated consistent accuracy in all ranges of arterial blood oxygen saturation (70-80%, 80-90%, and 90-100%) .

Nonin Onyx Vantage 9590 Finger Pulse Oximeter

Nonin Onyx Vantage 9590 Finger Pulse Oximeter is a small, lightweight device for use in measuring oxygen saturation of arterial haemoglobin(SpO2) and pulse rate of patients who are well or poorly perfused.

  • Nonin PureLight™ and PureSat™ technology gives unparalleled reliability and accuracy which is trusted by Hospital / EMS clinicians World-wide.
  • Proven durability – 9590 is tough enough to withstand a minimum of 50 drops from 1 metre
  • Highly efficient with 6000 spot checks from two AAA batteries.
  • ISO 80601-2-61:2017 Compliant.
  • Easy to clean – Oximeter can be easily wiped down between uses.
  • Covered by a 5 year drop inclusive warranty (Unit only) for UK official product.

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