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Understanding Nursing Procedure # 1: Oxygen Therapy

Sometimes, it feels like there is just not enough air in the room. For those who need oxygen therapy, that is a frightening truth. Good nursing procedure not only gives the patients the oxygen support they need, but offers reassurance in the process.

Basic Nursing Procedure: Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy is just what it sounds like: concentrated oxygen is administered to raise the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood to a normal, healthy level. This can be done via a nasal cannula, a mask, or a tent. Oxygen therapy can be given in the hospital or at home.

Often the respiratory therapist works closely with the doctor to decide what oxygen therapy the patient needs. Your job focuses on making certain the patient is comfortable, and closely monitoring their condition.

Beyond Nursing School

The best information about oxygen therapy can be learned through hands-on training. Go beyond what you learned in nursing school with these tips from the experienced pros:

  • Anxiety can make it even harder to breathe. Calming the patient can work wonders.
  • Sometimes a change in position can help. Sitting up or leaning forward can open up the lungs a bit.
  • A BiPap machine might look scary and feel frightening. Take the time to teach the patient exactly what it does, and why they need it.
  • Never use any kind of petroleum jelly or aerosol sprays around a patient receiving oxygen.
  • If a patient's lips become dry or chapped while on oxygen, lip balm can help, but make certain it doesn't have a petroleum base.
  • Cannulas can cause irritation. Tuck a bit of gauze under the tubing to prevent this.
  • When using a cannula, the patient might need to use a humidifier as well. Check with respiratory therapy about any discomfort the patient might experience.
  • Though a high oxygen saturation is good, anything 92 percent or above is acceptable for most patients.
  • Remember that oxygen stats might naturally drop a bit when someone is sleeping.
  • Instruct patients to inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouth. This may not only aid in breathing, but the focus required can help calm them as well.

A Final Word on Oxygen Therapy

Whether you opt to get your traditional or online nursing degree, you can learn about oxygen therapy--but you might not learn enough. Pay attention to your respiratory therapist when they show you the little "tricks of the trade" for patients under your care. Those little details can enhance your good nursing procedure, and can make your patient even more comfortable.

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