Oxygen therapy for acutely ill medical patients: a clinical practice guideline

What you need to know

  • It is a longstanding cultural norm to provide supplemental oxygen to sick patients regardless of their blood oxygen saturation
  • A recent systematic review and meta-analysis has shown that too much supplemental oxygen increases mortality for medical patients in the hospital
  • For patients receiving oxygen therapy, aim for peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) of ≤ 96% (strong recommendation)
  • For patients with acute myocardial infarction or stroke, do not initiate oxygen therapy in patients with SpO2 ≥ 90% (for ≥ 93% strong recommendation, for 90-92% weak recommendation)
  • A target SpO2 range of 90-94% seems reasonable for most patients and 88-92% for patients at risk of hypercapnic respiratory failure; use the minimum amount of oxygen necessary

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