30 Mar COPD Patients On Oxygen Therapy Should Be Warned Of Burn Risks
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Sharma: Thirty-five years ago, two multicenter trials reported substantial improvements in survival and quality of life with continuous oxygen therapy in the treatment of severe hypoxemia associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Notably, aside from smoking cessation, no other medical intervention therapy has been shown to improve survival for patients with COPD. It is estimated that upto a third of the patients who are prescribed oxygen continue to smoke.
Using large claims data of Medicare beneficiaries with COPD, we found that patients with COPD who had a burn injury were more likely to have been prescribed oxygen therapy in the preceding 90 days compared to the control subjects.
Patients with COPD on oxygen who had burn injury, the face, head and neck region were more commonly involved. In the U.S. oxygen is prescribed to an estimated one million Medicare beneficiaries, based on our estimates a physician would have to treat 1,421 patients with oxygen therapy for one year to cause one burn injury.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Sharma: When prescribing oxygen therapy to patient with COPD, health care providers should educate and counsel patients and family members about the potential risk of burn injury, especially in patients who continue to smoke. If they aren’t warned about the risk then they may be able to get compensation for medical negligence.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Sharma: Policy makers should revisit the ethics of prescribing oxygen in patients with COPD who continue to smoke. Countries such as Portugal, Slovakia, England and Canada consider smoking an exclusion or absolute contraindication for oxygen therapy.
Gulshan Sharma, MD, MPH et al. Burn Injury Associated With Home Oxygen Use in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, March 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.12.024
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gulshan Sharma, MD, MPH (2015). COPD Patients On Oxygen Therapy Should Be Warned Of Burn Risks