The state of long-term oxygen therapy

The Long Term Oxygen Therapy (LTOT) Conference; Separating Fact From Fiction was held in Orlando, Florida from March 31 to April 1. The attending faculty consisted of some of the most respected pulmonologists and clinicians across the country. The main objectives of the meeting was to identify the issues of effective oxygen therapy in the home, focusing on the science of LTOT and improving the outcomes of LTOT patients.

The conference starts with the presentations by Dr. Nick Hill and Dr. Barry Make. They are the conference co-directors and their presentations talked about the current issues and the obstacles of LTOT. It was shown that clinicians had not been very involved in the assessment, treatment and follow up of LTOT patients. This lack of attention ended up costing a lot of complications and hospitalizations of the patients.

As presented by Dr. Hill, the primary goal of LTOT is to keep the patients' oxygen levels at or above the accepted standards at all activity levels. As the result of the lack of attention to detail, this leads to complications when the main point of LTOT is to prevent these complications from happening.

Dean Hess PhD RRT then presented a review of the literature for LTOT. The literature review concluded that the oxygen therapy is effective, yet most of the studies being conducted were in a hospital setting with traditional continuous flow products. This contradicts with the new products being used today. Hence, the research data does not justify the effectiveness of the new products being used today.

Next, an overview on the availability of home oxygen systems are being presented by Dr. James Stoller. The new products, with a lower purity, intermittent flow delivery and patient varying respiratory patterns requires a more hands-on approach from the clinicians in caring for the patients receiving oxygen in the home.

Dr. Rich Casaburi brought up a thought-provoking question. The question being whether or not a patient could be adequately oxygenated 24 hours a day. This is not a reality yet, but is a possibility.

A new model that focuses on patient's oxygenation with the goal of overall reduction in costs are being presented by Dan Easley and Kim Wiles RRT. The data from their research presents a sounding objective reason for which hospitals should participate with home care providers in reducing re-admission of the patients currently on LTOT.

Hence, an overall recap of the conference dealt with the issues surrounding LTOT patients and steps that need to be taken by both clinicians and health care specialists in ensuring the clinical effectiveness of LTOT.