HealthDay News — Asian, Black, and Hispanic patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) have higher average pulse oximetry (SpO2) readings than White patients, and they receive less supplemental oxygen, according to a study published online July 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Eric Raphael Gottlieb, MD, 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 3069 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 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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