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Acute oxygen therapy: a review of prescribing and delivery practices

Authors Cousins J, Wark P, McDonald V

Received 4 January 2016

Accepted for publication 29 February 2016

Published 24 May 2016 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 1067—1075

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S103607

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Charles Downs

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


Joyce L Cousins,1–3 Peter AB Wark,3–5 Vanessa M McDonald2–5

1Faculty of Arts, Nursing and Theology, Avondale College of Higher Education, Sydney, 2School of Nursing and Midwifery, 3Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs, 4School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, 5Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Hunter Medical Research Institute, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Abstract: Oxygen is a commonly used drug in the clinical setting and like other drugs its use must be considered carefully. This is particularly true for those patients who are at risk of type II respiratory failure in whom the risk of hypercapnia is well established. In recent times, several international bodies have advocated for the prescription of oxygen therapy in an attempt to reduce this risk in vulnerable patient groups. Despite this guidance, published data have demonstrated that there has been poor uptake of these recommendations. Multiple interventions have been tested to improve concordance, and while some of these interventions show promise, the sustainability of these interventions are less convincing. In this review, we summarize data that have been published on the prevalence of oxygen prescription and the accurate and appropriate administration of this drug therapy. We also identify strategies that have shown promise in facilitating changes to oxygen prescription and delivery practice. There is a clear need to investigate the barriers, facilitators, and attitudes of clinicians in relation to the prescription of oxygen therapy in acute care. Interventions based on these findings then need to be designed and tested to facilitate the application of evidence-based guidelines to support sustained changes in practice, and ultimately improve patient care.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, type II respiratory failure, oxygen therapy, prescribing, hypoxia, hypercapnia

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