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Br J Nurs. 2007 Oct 11-24;16(18):1132-6.

An audit of oxygen therapy on a respiratory ward.

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Northampton General Hospital, Cliftonville, Northampton.


Oxygen therapy can be a life-saving intervention, which is widely available and commonly prescribed by medical staff. Patients often receive oxygen therapy in hospital but, like any other drug, oxygen can be dangerous when given in the wrong concentration.


To review the current literature. To examine current prescribing practice plus methods of oxygen delivery on a respiratory ward.


A prospective audit was conducted on patients receiving oxygen therapy over a 4-week period. The ward was audited pre- and post-education sessions. Education was on oxygen prescribing and oxygen therapy.


The literature revealed that oxygen was often poorly prescribed by doctors and at times poorly administered by nurses. Of the 55 patients audited pre-education, only 5% of patients had a prescription. This increased to 20% post-education (P=0.042). The initial audit uncovered 14 issues surrounding oxygen delivery. This fell to one post-education (P<0.001). Reassuringly, all patients had arterial oxygen saturation recorded.


Current rates of oxygen prescribing remain unsatisfactory despite doctors being made aware of the audit findings. Education on oxygen therapy improved the delivery of oxygen therapy to patients on a respiratory ward.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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