New guidance on oxygen use for hospital patients


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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A panel of international experts has recommended against routine oxygen therapy for hospital patients as they say the benefit is uncertain and there are clear harms. 

The advice follows a recent systematic review published in the Lancet, which found that supplemental oxygen in inpatients with normal oxygen saturation (SpO2) increases mortality.

Consequently, the new BMJ Rapid Recommendation published in the British Medical Journal strongly advises that oxygen therapy should be stopped at SpO2 of 96% in all acutely ill adult medical patients, with few exceptions. It also includes a strong recommendation not to start oxygen therapy at or above 93% SpO2 in patients with acute stroke or myocardial infarction and there is a weak recommendation against initiating treatment at 90-92% SpO2.

The recommendations say a target SpO2 range of 90-94% “seems reasonable” for most patients and a target of 88-92% is advised for patients at risk of hypercapnic respiratory failure.

In general, the group recommends that the minimum amount of oxygen necessary should be used.

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