Respiration. 2021 Dec 21:1-39. doi: 10.1159/000520294. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Oxygen (O2) is a drug with specific biochemical and physiological properties, a range of effective doses and may have side effects. In 2015, 14% of over 55,000 hospital patients in the UK were using oxygen. 42% of patients received this supplemental oxygen without a valid prescription. Health care professionals are frequently uncertain about the relevance of hypoxemia and have low awareness about the risks of hyperoxemia. Numerous randomized controlled trials about targets of oxygen therapy have been published in recent years. A national guideline is urgently needed.
METHODS: A national S3 guideline was developed and published within the Program for National Disease Management Guidelines (AWMF) with participation of 10 medical associations. A literature search was performed until February 1, 2021, to answer 10 key questions. The Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) System ("The Oxford 2011 Levels of Evidence") was used to classify types of studies in terms of validity. Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) was used for assessing the quality of evidence and for grading guideline recommendation, and a formal consensus-building process was performed.
RESULTS: The guideline includes 34 evidence-based recommendations about indications, prescription, monitoring and discontinuation of oxygen therapy in acute care. The main indication for O2 therapy is hypoxemia. In acute care both hypoxemia and hyperoxemia should be avoided. Hyperoxemia also seems to be associated with increased mortality, especially in patients with hypercapnia. The guideline provides recommended target oxygen saturation for acute medicine without differentiating between diagnoses. Target ranges for oxygen saturation are based depending on ventilation status risk for hypercapnia. The guideline provides an overview of available oxygen delivery systems and includes recommendations for their selection based on patient safety and comfort.
CONCLUSION: This is the first national guideline on the use of oxygen in acute care. It addresses health care professionals using oxygen in acute out-of-hospital and in-hospital settings.