Recipients of hyperbaric oxygen treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning and exposure circumstances

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BackgroundUnintentional carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Severe cases are often referred for hyperbaric oxygen treatment. To guide prevention efforts and treatment practices, this study provides some of the most detailed current information about patients with carbon monoxide poisoning who have been treated at hyperbaric facilities across the United States and the circumstances surrounding their exposures. This study can help improve efforts to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and enhance treatment practices.MethodsFrom August 2008 to January 2010, nonidentifiable, patient-level data were reported by 87 hyperbaric facilities in 39 states via an online reporting system. This reporting system was developed collaboratively by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.ResultsAmong the 864 patients reported to receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment for unintentional, non-fire-related, carbon monoxide poisoning, most of the patients were white men aged between 18 and 44 years. Only 10% of patients reported the presence of a carbon monoxide alarm at their exposure location, and 75% reported being part of a group exposure. Nineteen patients (2%) reported a prior carbon monoxide exposure. About half (55%) of the patients treated were discharged after treatment; 41% were hospitalized.ConclusionsThe findings in this report expand the knowledge about patients with carbon monoxide poisoning. These results suggest that prevention efforts, such as educating the public about using carbon monoxide alarms and targeting the most at-risk populations, may help reduce the number of exposures, the number of persons with chronic cognitive sequelae, and the resulting burden on the health care system.

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