Acute exacerbation of COPD: Are we still over-oxygenating?

Anita Douglas
Monday, November 5, 2012

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects thousands of people across the UK. It accounts for a large amount of hospital admissions, which are often seen by the ambulance service during acute exacerbations. Discussion has surrounded the amount of oxygen this type of patient should be receiving during acute exacerbations. Research to provide evidence–based practice for the use of oxygen in the hospital and pre-hospital environment has been ongoing for several years. In 2009 the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC) changed their guidance following the British Thoracic Society's (BTS) release of new guidelines in oxygen use in adult patients, thus determining that oxygen should be delivered in a more precise manner. However in light of current evidence could further changes be made in the delivery of oxygen, by using air–driven nebulisation during the delivery of drugs to patients presenting in the pre-hospital environment with an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). This would allow patients to receive an appropriate amount of oxygen during their transfer to hospital, giving improved care and treatment of patients at risk of hypercapnic respiratory failure. This article will discuss the changes to practice which have already been identified and recommended and also discuss the potential implications these changes may have on patient care.

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