In a commentary published by Medscape, Aaron B. Holley, MD, “confesses” to being “addicted to placing high-flow oxygen via nasal cannula (HFNC)” on all of his ICU patients. Holley goes on to discuss the use of HFNC compared to other modalities, and concludes he will continue to use the treatment for his patients, when appropriate.

From the commentary…

[My ICU patients] seem to like it. They can still interact with their families, they can still eat, and they don’t get abrasions on their skin. The full face masks we synch onto patients when delivering noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) leave horrible marks. I’m not sure how well high-flow works, but I’ve read a few papers on the proposed physiology.[1] It’s really cool.

Truth be told, I think the respiratory therapists are more addicted to HFNC than I am. Point being, I’m seeing it used increasingly more often. I really have no issue with this, mainly for the reasons I joked about above. However, we in the medical world love to adopt fancy new devices, especially when they advertise “superior humidification systems” and novel delivery methods. Unfortunately, it’s usually not until we’ve used a new technology on patients that we get around to asking how clinically effective it really is.