High inspiratory oxygen concentrations are frequently administered in ventilated patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) but may induce lung injury and systemic toxicity. Researchers compared beliefs and actual clinical practice regarding oxygen therapy in critically ill patients.

ICU physicians and nurses from three large teaching hospitals in the Netherlands were invited to complete a questionnaire about oxygen therapy and results were compared to arterial blood gas (ABG) analysis data and ventilator settings retrieved to assess actual oxygen practice in the same hospitals 1 year prior to the survey.

Most ICU clinicians acknowledge the potential adverse effects of prolonged exposure to hyperoxia and report a low tolerance for high oxygen levels. However, in actual clinical practice, a large proportion of their ICU patients was exposed to higher arterial oxygen levels than self-reported target ranges.