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Oxygen: Blood Tests

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 141981, tabled on 22 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of oxygen blood level tests such as pulse oximeters in patients with darker skins.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

29 January 2021

Pulse oximeters are regulated as medical devices and fall within the remit of the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The MHRA is aware of the potential impact of skin colour on pulse oximeter readings, although no reports of incorrect results due to this factor have been received. Clinicians do not depend entirely upon these readings, instead using them in combination with other diagnostic indicators.

The MHRA will continue to monitor the safety and performance of pulse oximeters. If concerning evidence arises over results interpreted in a clinical setting for patients with darker skin pigments, the MHRA will undertake any necessary investigation, reviewing compliance in line with regulations and international standards.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care
Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.