Oxygen treatment is used to save lives. Emergency oxygen is used around two million times a year by ambulance services in the UK, equivalent to around 34% of all ambulance journeys, and around 18% of hospital inpatients in the UK are treated with oxygen at any one time.

Some of its main indications are for respiratory failure, in which there is inadequate oxygenation or elimination of carbon dioxide from mixed venous blood, and to treat severe hypoxaemia resulting from ischaemic heart disease, sepsis or trauma.

However, when used incorrectly, oxygen can have detrimental effects to patients’ conditions and be fatal. This article outlines the use of oxygen in emergency treatment, and in long-term therapy.

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