Oxygen Therapy for COPD Linked to Burn Injury

For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), at home oxygen therapy is associated with higher occurrences of burn injury, according to investigators at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), at home oxygen therapy is associated with higher occurrences of burn injury, according to investigators at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

Analyzing the enrollment and claims data of COPD Medicare beneficiaries 66 years and older, Alexander Duarte, MD, senior author and professor in UTMB’s internal medicine division of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine, and his colleagues focused on burn injury outcomes.

Published online on March 30 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the team reported that COPD patients who underwent oxygen therapy were 2 times more likely (odds ratio, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.57-3.78) to have suffered a burn injury in the preceding 90 days than COPD patients that didn’t use the treatment. A retrospective cohort study also showed the absolute risk for burns was 2.98 per 1000 oxygen therapy patients versus 1.69 per 1000 patients not prescribed oxygen in a 22-month period.

“The excess risk of a burn injury associated with oxygen was 0.704 per 1000 patients per year, and the number needed to harm was 1421,” the writers penned.

Furthermore, the investigators identified male sex, low socioeconomic status, and the presence of 3 or more comorbidities as other factors that rose burn injury risk.

In light of their findings, the authors claimed while oxygen therapy has effectively improved conditions like hypoxemia, where there is insufficient oxygen in the blood, their study shows physicians should take additional steps to mitigate burn risks in people with COPD.

“The benefits of oxygen in COPD patients outweigh the modest risks of burn injury,” Duarte said in a news release. “However, health care professionals should educate and counsel patients and their families on the potential risk of burn injury and attempt to decrease this risk before prescribing home oxygen therapy.”