Primum Non Nocere and the 5 Rights

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Overutilization of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is commonplace and primarily associated with outpatient wound care. While the number of hospitals providing HBOT is at an all-time high, the number of those willing to treat patients in immediate need is at an all-time low. Huge areas of the country, including major population areas, are now completely devoid of 24/7 HBOT availability and inpatient access. Purchasers of healthcare, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have become increasingly concerned to the point that several strategies have been introduced to constructively deal with this issue. This commentary serves as a counterpoint to concerns that one such approach, prior authorization of elective indications, adversely delays medically necessary care. The historical evolution of HBOT practice will be described to underscore how this problem has become so widespread and, to date, largely unchecked. It will also address the paradoxical national crisis of access for emergencies.

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