BACKGROUND: Liberal use of oxygen in an emergency situation is common. Today, most health care professionals do not adjust the amount of oxygen given when a saturation of 100% or a PaO2 which exceeds the normal range is reached- which may result in hyperoxia. There is increasing evidence for the toxic effects of hyperoxia. Therefore, it seems justified to aim for normoxia when giving oxygen. This study evaluates whether it is feasible to aim for normoxia when giving oxygen therapy to patients at the emergency department (ED).
METHODS: A prospective cohort study was performed at the ED of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). A protocol was developed, aiming for normoxia. During a 14 week period all patients > 18 years arriving at the ED between 8 a.m. and 23 p.m. requiring oxygen therapy registered for cardiology, internal medicine, emergency medicine and pulmonology were included. Statistical analysis was performed using student independent t-test, Mann-Whitney U-test, Fisher's exact test or a Pearson's chi-squared test.
RESULTS: During the study period the study protocol was followed and normoxia was obtained after 1 h at the ED in 86,4% of the patients. Patients with COPD were more at risk for not being titrated to normal oxygen levels.
CONCLUSIONS: We showed that it is feasible to titrate oxygen therapy to normoxia at the ED. The study results will be used for further research assessing the potential beneficial effects of normoxia compared to hyper- or hypoxia in ED patients and for the development of guidelines.