Preventing prehospital hyperoxygenation during acute exacerbation of COPD

David Fitzpatrick
February 2012

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term, incurable lung condition. Acute exacerbations are frequently encountered by ambulance clinicians and are routinely treated with oxygen therapy and nebulised drugs. Yet, delivering the appropriate amount of oxygen to these patients is challenging, and the effects of getting it wrong are significant. Hyperoxygenation of patients with acute exacerbation of COPD leads to a significantly increased rate of mortality and morbidity. This article outlines the pathology of COPD and relevant clinical guidelines. It proposes a multi-modal intervention as a solution to the challenge of ensuring the appropriate delivery of oxygen therapy to patients who are experiencing an acute exacerbation of their COPD.

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