Is Outpatient Control of Long-Term Non-Invasive Ventilation Feasible in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients?

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Background: Long-term non-invasive ventilation (NIV) is an established and increasingly used treatment option for patients with chronic hypercapnic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Following inpatient NIV establishment, inpatient control visits regularly occur thereafter. However, it remains unclear whether such control visits can also be performed in an outpatient setting, which, in turn, would reduce costs, patient burden and the complications related to hospitalization. Objectives: To investigate an outpatient setting with predefined criteria for hospitalization for patients with chronic hypercapnic COPD. Methods: An outpatient clinic located within the hospital in the vicinity of the respiratory care unit provided predefined criteria for hospitalization of COPD patients receiving long-term NIV therapy. The results of this setting were retrospectively analysed. Results: A total of 130 outpatient visits (80 patients) were analysed. In 93 cases (71.5%), hospital admission was not necessary, while hospitalization was performed in 37 cases (28.5%). Out of these, 7 cases with acute conditions required prompt hospitalization. Patients without hospitalization had better PaCO2 values (45.40 ± 5.27 vs. 50.05 ± 8.04, p = 0.002) and Severe Respiratory Insufficiency Questionnaire Summary scores (55.54 ± 19.74 vs. 41.82 ± 19.59, p = 0.012). Conclusion: Outpatient control of long-term NIV in a hospital setting is feasible and has the capacity to identify stable COPD patients in whom NIV therapy is sufficient according to predefined criteria. These patients may not require hospitalization and may account for more than two thirds of cases.

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