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Emergency Medical Minute


Oct 20, 2020

Contributor: Aaron Lessen, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • The use of oxygen is controversial when treating patients with certain conditions, like MI’s, stokes, or ARDS because adverse outcomes have been demonstrated with using high oxygen concentrations.
  • The Oxygen ICU trial looked at using higher and lower oxygen levels in treating intubated ARDS patients and found that mortality was improved when less oxygen was given allowing oxygen saturations to sit around 95% versus using high oxygen levels to obtain 100% blood oxygen saturation.
  • The LOCO trial tested using even lower oxygen concentrations allowing patients to have oxygen saturations around 88% compared to more oxygen with saturation goals of 96%. They found a 15% increase in mortality in the lower saturation group and had some incidences of mesenteric ischemia leading to a premature termination of the trial due to the detrimental outcomes.
  • This means a blood oxygen saturation rate of around 94% is probably a safe bet for patients to reduce episodes of hypoxia but limit over oxygenation injuries, especially in patients requiring longer term oxygen therapy.


1) Girardis M, Busani S, Damiani E, Donati A, Rinaldi L, Marudi A, Morelli A, Antonelli M, Singer M. Effect of Conservative vs Conventional Oxygen Therapy on Mortality Among Patients in an Intensive Care Unit: The Oxygen-ICU Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2016 Oct 18;316(15):1583-1589. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.11993. PMID: 27706466.

2) Barrot L, Asfar P, Mauny F, Winiszewski H, Montini F, Badie J, Quenot JP, Pili-Floury S, Bouhemad B, Louis G, Souweine B, Collange O, Pottecher J, Levy B, Puyraveau M, Vettoretti L, Constantin JM, Capellier G; LOCO2 Investigators and REVA Research Network. Liberal or Conservative Oxygen Therapy for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2020 Mar 12;382(11):999-1008. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1916431. PMID: 32160661.

Summarized by Jackson Roos, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD

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