FDA closely monitoring pulse oximeters

June 22, 2022

The FDA continues to evaluate all available information pertaining to factors that may affect pulse oximeter accuracy and performance.

Because of ongoing concerns that these products may be less accurate in individuals with darker skin pigmentations, the FDA is planning to convene a public meeting of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee later this year to discuss the available evidence about the accuracy of pulse oximeters, recommendations for patients and healthcare providers, the amount and type of data that should be provided by manufacturers to assess pulse oximeter accuracy, and to guide other regulatory actions as needed. Further details concerning the agenda, timing, and location of the Advisory Committee meeting will be announced in the coming weeks.

The FDA recommendations provided below have not changed. The FDA will continue to keep the public informed as significant new information or recommendations become available.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused an increase in the use of pulse oximeters, and a recent report suggests that the devices may be less accurate in people with dark skin pigmentation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing patients and healthcare providers that although pulse oximetry is useful for estimating blood oxygen levels, pulse oximeters have limitations and a risk of inaccuracy under certain circumstances that should be considered. Patients with conditions such as COVID-19 who monitor their condition at home should pay attention to all signs and symptoms of their condition and communicate any concerns to their healthcare provider.

The FDA is committed to the continued evaluation of the safety, effectiveness, and availability of medical devices, especially devices in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA is evaluating published literature pertaining to factors that may affect pulse oximeter accuracy and performance, with a focus on literature that evaluates whether products may be less accurate in individuals with darker skin pigmentation. The FDA has been working on additional analysis of premarket data, as well as working with outside stakeholders, including manufacturers and testing laboratories, to analyze additional postmarket data to better understand how different factors including skin pigmentation may affect pulse oximeter accuracy. Based on these findings, the FDA may reassess the content of the pulse oximetry guidance document.

FDA release

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