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Commentary on: Chu DK, Kim LH, Young PJ, et al. Mortality and morbidity in acutely ill adults treated with liberal versus conservative oxygen therapy (IOTA): a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2018; 391:1693–1705.
Oxygen is one of the most commonly used drugs in acute medicine, yet its prescription and administration in clinical practice is poor.1 The recognition that not only hypoxaemia, but also high FiO2 and hyperoxaemia pose potential avoidable risks to patients, has led to the concept of administering oxygen only if necessary to relieve hypoxaemia, but at an FiO2 that does not lead to hyperoxaemia.2 In the antipodes, this management paradigm has been colloquially referred to as ‘swimming between the flags’, in which oxygen is administered to keep the arterial oxygen saturation within a prespecified target range.3 The efficacy of this approach was demonstrated …
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