Management of hypoxaemic respiratory failure in a Respiratory High-dependency Unit.

This paper was published by Hukins and colleagues in Internal Medicine Journal in July 2017 volume 47 number 7 addressing the limited data on outcomes of hypoxaemic respiratory failure (HRF), especially in non-intensive care unit (ICU) settings.


Aim:  To assess outcomes in HRF (without multi-system disease and not requiring early intubation) of patients directly admitted to a Respiratory High-dependency Unit (R-HDU).

Methods:  This is a retrospective cohort study of HRF compared to hypercapnic respiratory failure (HCRF) in a R-HDU (2007-2011). Patient characteristics (age, gender, pre-morbid status, diagnoses) and outcomes (non-invasive ventilation (NIV) use, survival, ICU admission) were assessed. 

Results:  There were 1207 R-HDU admissions in 2007-2011, 205 (17%) with HRF and 495 (41%) with HCRF. The proportion with HRF increased from 12.2% in 2007 to 20.1% in 2011 (P < 0.05). HRF patients were younger, more often male and had better pre-morbid performance. Compared to HCRF, HRF was more frequently associated with lung consolidation (61% vs 15%, P < 0.001), interstitial lung disease (12% vs 1%, P < 0.001) and pulmonary hypertension (7% vs 0%, P < 0.001) and less frequently with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (24% vs 65%, P < 0.001) and obstructive sleep apnoea (8% vs 26%, P < 0.001). Fewer patients with HRF were treated with NIV (28% vs 87%, P < 0.001), but NIV was discontinued early more often (28% vs 7%, P < 0.001). A total of 18% with HRF was transferred to ICU compared to 6% with HCRF (P = 0.06). More patients with HRF died (19.5% vs 12.3%, P = 0.02). Interstitial lung disease, consolidation, shock, malignancy and poorer pre-morbid function were associated with increased mortality.

Conclusions:  Initial R-HDU management is an effective option in selected HRF to reduce ICU demand, although mortality and clinical deterioration despite NIV are more common than in HCRF.

The full paper can be accessed by subscribers to “Internal Medicine Journal” via this link.  Some articles may be available freely without a password.  Library members can order individual articles via the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust Library and Knowledge Service using the article requests online via this link.

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