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January 24, 2020

Evolving Issues in Oxygen Therapy in Acute Care Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation, Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • 2Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation, Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, Departments of Medicine and Physiology, University of Toronto; University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospitals, Toronto, Canada
JAMA. 2020;323(7):607-608. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.22029

Oxygen therapy is one of the most ubiquitously applied therapies in modern medicine. Clinicians usually react rapidly to declining oxygen saturations. Although this response is appropriate in the setting of hypoxia, there are many circumstances in which excess oxygen is indiscriminately administered for extended periods.

Medicine has recently experienced a shift from “more is better” to “less is more” as more has been learned about the ability of the human body to adapt to extreme physiological conditions and about the inappropriate use of various therapies. Examples include hemoglobin thresholds and carbon dioxide levels. Attention in recent years has focused on the potential harms associated with excess oxygen therapy.

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