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Supplemental Oxygen Needs Rarely Addressed in COPD Inpatients

by U.S. Medicine

March 20, 2018

CHICAGO — Patients hospitalized with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who require supplemental oxygen (O2) are at increased risk of hospital readmissions, but little information exists on the quality of evaluation and documentation regarding the need for supplemental O2 in that population.  

A report in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease describes the results of a study which determined how often evaluation and documentation regarding the need for supplemental O2 occurs prior to hospital discharge in COPD patients. The study was led by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers and included participation from the Jesse Brown VAMC, also in Chicago.1

The study team conducted a two-center retrospective cohort study of hospitalized adults with a physician diagnosis of COPD, reviewing electronic health records to determine whether patients underwent evaluation beyond rest oximetry documenting hypoxemia. They also focused on the quality of documentation of supplemental O2 requirements prior to discharge.

Included in the study were 335 patients, average age 69, who met the eligibility criteria. Of those, 78% had a diagnosis of COPD exacerbation.

Results indicated that 1 in 5 (22%, 73/335) hospitalized patients with COPD had an evaluation beyond rest oximetry for supplemental O2 requirements during admission. Researchers emphasized that adequate documentation of supplemental O2 requirements occurred in even fewer patients (16%, 54/335).

Both evaluation (26% vs. 5%, p=0.002) and documentation (19% vs. 4%, p=0.001) of supplemental O2 requirements were more common in patients hospitalized for a COPD exacerbation compared to those hospitalized with COPD but without an exacerbation, they reported.

“Evaluation and documentation of supplemental O2 requirements beyond rest oximetry occur infrequently in patients hospitalized with COPD,” study authors concluded.


1Zaidi F, Lee RS, Buchcic BA, Bracken NE, Jaffe HA, Joo M, Prieto-Centurion V, Tan AY, Krishnan JA. Evaluation and Documentation of Supplemental Oxygen Requirements is Rarely Performed in Patients Hospitalized With COPD. Chronic Obstr Pulm Dis. 2017 Sep 20;4(4):287-296. doi: 10.15326/jcopdf.4.4.2017.0148. PubMed PMID: 29354673; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5764842.


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