Guideline on the medical use of oxygen released by BTS

Published: 17 May 2017

The British Thoracic Society (BTS) has published an updated version of its Guideline for oxygen use in adults in healthcare and emergency settings.

Updates to the guideline have included the addition of the following areas and topics to the guideline:

  • emergency oxygen use, and most other oxygen use, in healthcare settings
  • short-term oxygen use by healthcare workers outside of healthcare settings
  • endoscopy and other procedures requiring sedation
  • care before, during, and after operations including patient-controlled analgesia
  • palliative care settings
  • use of oxygen mixtures, such as those used in childbirth
  • use of high-flow humidified nasal cannulae
  • use of oxygen by healthcare professionals in patients’ homes
  • use of oxygen by voluntary rescue organisations and other non-NHS first responders.
Key points highlighted for primary care managers and commissioners include:
  • oxygen should be available where patients may become acutely unwell
  • oximeters must be available whenever emergency oxygen is used
  • the recommended delivery systems should be available
  • primary care and secondary care staff, and ambulance control teams in each district should cooperate in establishing a list of all patients who are known to be sensitive to high-dose oxygen therapy.

Dr Ronan O’Driscoll, Consultant Respiratory Specialist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation trust, said: ‘Oxygen is a very important drug and should also be prescribed and monitored like any other medication. It is very beneficial to many patients, but can be harmful if misused.