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St Christopher’s hospice clinical guidelines: oxygen therapy
  1. Anne McGregor,
  2. Vicky Robinson,
  3. Merrilyn Booth,
  4. Jenny Taylor,
  5. Hazel Sharpe and
  6. Annerose Maier
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, London

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Aim of guidance

To ensure that patients in need of oxygen therapy are provided with the correct measures for treatment and comfort.


  • ▶▶ To give clear guidance on the clinical indications for the use of oxygen therapy in a palliative care setting.

  • ▶▶ To list the equipment needed for each situation.

Who will benefit from oxygen therapy?

Dyspnoea (breathlessness) and other symptoms of hypoxia can be managed through pharmacological and other measures. Some, but not all, patients may additionally benefit from oxygen. Hypoxaemia (insufficient oxygen in the blood) and dyspnoea are only weakly correlated. However, oxygen may be helpful in selected patients with advanced cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but there is currently no evidence for benefit in heart failure (Booth et al, 2004).

Oxygen therapy requirements vary depending on the nature of the problem. Some patients need carefully monitored concentrations of oxygen (high or low), while for others …

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