Whilst research demonstrates the benefits of nasal high flow oxygen in the intensive care setting, limited literature exists on its benefits in ward patients. This study evaluated the use of nasal high flow oxygen in adult ward patients with respiratory failure or at risk of respiratory deterioration. Primary outcome was an improvement in pulmonary function as indicated by decreases in respiratory and heart rates and an increase in arterial oxygen saturation via pulse oximetry.
Using a prospective observational research design, purposeful sampling recruited 67 adult ward patients receiving nasal high flow oxygen between May and July 2015 (inclusive). All recruited patients were included in the data analysis. The median age was 71.0 years (q25, q75=58.0, 78.0) and most patients were medical specialty patients (n=46, 68.7%). After commencing nasal high flow oxygen, respiratory rate (t=2.79, p=<0.01) and heart rate (t=2.23, p=0.03) decreased and arterial oxygen saturation via pulse oximetry increased (t=4.08, p=<0.001).
Nasal high flow oxygen appears effective in a selective group of ward patients with respiratory failure, or at risk of respiratory deterioration, and may reduce demand on critical care beds; this warrants further research.