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June 17, 1974

Outpatient Oxygen for Chronic Airway Obstruction

JAMA. 1974;228(12):1541-1543. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230370023017

ALL primary physicians who provide ambulatory care encounter large and increasing numbers of patients with emphysema and chronic bronchitis that together are called chronic airway obstruction. Many have advanced disease and are disabled. Since significant hypoxemia is present in many of these patients, the value and practicality of outpatient oxygen therapy for both objective and subjective benefit has recently become of interest. Pertinent questions remain concerning indications, economic problems, safety, and the possibility of oxygen toxicity. The purpose of this commentary is to review our nine experiences with oxygen provided to ambulatory patients and to give at least preliminary answers to these remaining questions.

In 1965, we embarked on a systematic study of what we then called long-term oxygen therapy for a group of highly selected patients with chronic airway obstruction. Briefly, this initial group of only six patients had the bronchitic type of chronic airway obstruction, with clinical evidence