Paramedics over-oxygenating COPD patients


By Nicola Garrett

23 Apr 2015

The majority of COPD patients arriving at hospital by ambulance are given too much oxygen, research shows.

The study of 263 patients found 222 (84.4%) had an SpO2 reading of ≥93% at the last ambulance reading despite guidelines recommending oxygen therapy be carefully titrated to achieve oxygen saturations of between 88% and 92%.

Of particular concern was the finding that 74% of patients on home oxygen therapy also had an SpO2 reading of ≥93%.

This was a “high-risk group for reliance on hypoxic drive to drive respiration,” the authors from the Emergency Department at Western Health, Melbourne wrote in Emergency Medicine Australasia. 

The reasons for over-oxygenating patients are not clear but could include educational issues, lack of air in the ambulance to drive nebulisers or no alternative oxygen delivery equipment.

Their data is an example of the importance of periodically measuring what is actually done rather than assuming guidelines will be followed, they concluded.


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