Ok--quick nerdy medicine post.
One of my pet peeves is how every time oxygen therapy comes up in class the prof will drone on and on about COPD'ers and their hypoxic drive and not overloading them with oxygen because it will "cut out their respiratory drive and they'll stop breathing".
I get the theory behind this but I can say (with a hand on my heart) that in 10 years of nursing school/working in emergency departments and dealing with countless and I mean countless respiratory distressed patients (and *most* of them COPD'ers) I have never, evah, seen one of them lose their drive and stop breathing from being overly oxygentated.
Now I am sure there will be some readers out there that will disagree or have a case example of when it has happened (which is fine) but teaching an academic theory that is very very very very unlikely clinically seems odd to me since most of my classmates now believe that you can't give more than 2L of O2 to someone with COPD.
I flash to the last severe respiratory distress patient I had with severe COPD (I was actually positive the guy was going to code but thank heavens he didn't). The man was a very unnatural shade of blue, very tachypnic, tachycardic, frightened out of his mind, and sucking so hard on that non-rebreather. Ummm I don't think the oxygen was coming close to knocking out his drive to breathe, the oxygen was keeping him alive.
Today we had a lecture from a visiting respirologist who stated in his lecture (and I quote):
...there is all this talk about C02 retainers and patients with COPD, about how you need to be very judicious with oxygen therapy because they will lose their respiratory drive...in my experience this is purely an academic concept and I can say that I have never, ever seen it demonstrated in the clinical setting, it's not really a concern...
I swear I almost jumped up and yelled "THANK YOU!!!"
But I didn't.
Yay! Now I have a respiratory specialist *ON TAPE* making that statement. I can sit back and feel vindicated. Even my study buddy looked over at me when he said it and gave me the thumbs up.