MIL-OSI United Kingdom: Equity in Medical Devices: Independent Review

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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

The way medical devices and technologies are designed and used has raised concerns about the impact of ethnic background on a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, exacerbating existing inequalities in healthcare.

In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that pulse oximeters, which estimate the level of oxygen in the blood, may not be as accurate for patients with darker skin tones as for those with light skin tones.

In response to growing concerns, an independent review into equity in medical devices was tasked by the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Sir Sajid Javid MP, to establish the extent and impact of potential racial, ethnic and other factors leading to unfair biases in the design and use of medical devices and to make recommendations for improvements.

The independent review focussed on three types of medical devices that the panel identified to be particularly prone to unfair biases: ‘optical’ medical devices (such as pulse oximeters); those assisted by Artificial Intelligence (AI); and Polygenic Risk Scores (PRS).

Journalists came to this SMC briefing to hear from some of the members of the panel who lead this independent review about what they found in terms of the extent of the problem, the causes and recommendations for possible solutions.

Speakers included:

Professor Dame Margaret Whitehead, Chair of the Independent Review, WH Duncan Chair of Public Health at the University of Liverpool

Dr Raghib Ali, Senior Clinical Research Associate, University of Cambridge

Professor Enitan Carrol, Professor of Paediatric Infection, University of Liverpool

Professor Chris Holmes, Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Oxford, and Programme Director for Health and Medical Sciences at The Alan Turing Institute

Prof Frank Kee, Director Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine Dentistry, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)

Prof Daniel Martin, Professor of Perioperative and Intensive Care Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth

This SMC Briefing was accompanied by an SMC Roundup.

MIL OSI United Kingdom