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In the News: The Fatal Flaw of the Pulse Oximeter (6/24/22)

Dr. Govind Rao was quoted in an June 2022 article by Rebeca Sohn for IEE Spectrum for the Technology Insider  titled "The Fatal Flaw of the Pulse Oximeter Racial bias led to faulty product design that led to its inability to work properly with melanin-rich skin".

“If you have melanin, which is the pigment that's responsible for skin color…that could potentially affect the transmittance of the light going through the skin,” said Govind Rao, a professor of engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who was not involved in the study.

The study “shows how urgent it is to move away from pulse [oximeters],” said Rao, and to find alternatives ways of measuring blood-oxygen saturation.


A long-term solution will require changing the technology, either by using a different method entirely or having devices that can better adjust results to account for differences in skin color. One technological alternative is having devices that measure oxygen diffusing across the skin, called transdermal measurement, which Rao’s lab is working on developing.

Posted: June 29, 2022, 9:16 AM