Background Oxygen therapy is a life safe drug which should be administered in accordance with British Thoracic Society Guidelines1.
Objective To assess the knowledge of medical students, foundation doctors and specialist registrars on emergency oxygen therapy in a district general hospital.
Methods A questionnaire was sent to all medical students, foundation doctors and specialist registrars, studying or working at our hospital. Six clinical scenarios were given and the student or doctor was asked to indicate how much oxygen they would administer from a choice of five possible options.
Results Out of a total of 283 surveys sent, there were 129 responses which included responses from 18 specialist registrars 33 foundation doctors and 77 medical students. The medical students answered 54.5% correctly, foundation doctors 58% correctly and specialist registrars 47.5% correctly. Overall, across all grades, participants were aware of the indications for high flow oxygen. However there was a poor appreciation of the need for controlled oxygen in patients with certain comorbidites such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute coronary syndrome and morbid obesity.
Conclusions This survey has shown a poor understanding of oxygen therapy in many emergency situations. Of concern, the knowledge of our registrars dealing with medical emergencies was poorer than the foundation doctors and medical students. This may be a reflection that since the BTS emergency oxygen guidelines production, teaching on emergency oxygen has now become an integral part of medical student teaching which more senior doctors will not have benefited from. Education on oxygen therapy should be mandatory in medical schools and also to doctors in all grades throughout the trust.
O’Driscoll BR, Howard LS, Davison AG. BTS guideline for emergency oxygen use in adult patients. Thorax 2008; 63: Supplement VI