Deakin University

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Use of excessive supplemental oxygen in mechanically ventilated patients is based on unit culture. A multiple-methods study in a regional intensive care unit

journal contribution
posted on 2020-07-01, 00:00 authored by A E Livingston, Ana HutchinsonAna Hutchinson, Laura BrooksLaura Brooks
© 2019 Background: Administration of supplemental oxygen is widely used in the management of critically ill patients; however, there is evidence that excessive supplemental oxygen exposure is associated with increased mortality. There is limited research evaluating what factors clinicians take into consideration when managing oxygenation in critically ill adults. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore intensive care unit (ICU) clinicians’ experience and decision-making when managing supplemental oxygen therapy in mechanically ventilated patients in a regional intensive care unit. Methods: A multiple-methods observational study that included (i) a cross-sectional ICU staff survey and (ii) focus group discussions with critical care nurses was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise the key outcomes of the staff survey. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the focus group discussions and open-ended questions on the staff survey. The staff survey was completed by 49 ICU clinicians, and 11 critical care nurses participated in the two focus group discussions. Results: Survey data showed that staff acknowledged the problem of excessive oxygen exposure; 79.6% (n = 39) reported that the minimum acceptable fraction of inspired oxygen for mechanically ventilated patients was 0.3. The majority (89.8%, n = 44) reported that there was an interdisciplinary approach to decision-making in the unit. Two major themes were chosen from the focus group discussions and staff survey data: (i) Decision-making is based on unit culture rather than evidence and (ii) the process of weaning is driven by interdisciplinary team collaboration. Participants acknowledged that there needed to be a culture change from a liberal approach to oxygen therapy. Conclusions: Although participants acknowledged the adverse consequences of excessive oxygen use, achieving oxygenation targets with the minimum level of supplemental oxygen was not a key focus of care. The findings highlight the need to develop and evaluate evidence-based protocols to support a conservative approach to supplemental oxygen management.



Australian Critical Care






343 - 349




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal