A randomized controlled trial of oxygen for reducing nausea and vomiting during emergency transport of patients older than 60 years with minor trauma

Mayo Clin Proc. 2002 Jan;77(1):35-8. doi: 10.4065/77.1.35.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that oxygen administration reduces nausea and vomiting in patients with minor trauma during ambulance transport.

Patients and methods: This study, conducted from January to April 2000, consisted of 100 patients older than 60 years with minor trauma, who were randomly assigned to breathe air or 100% oxygen at 10 L/min through a facemask during ambulance transport. A paramedic, blinded to treatment, recorded vomiting episodes during transport. Patients, also blinded to treatment, rated their levels of pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and overall satisfaction with their care on 100-mm visual analog scales, with greater values indicating more intense sensation. Results from the 2 groups were compared with chi2 or unpaired 2-tailed t tests and presented as means +/- SDs.

Results: Before randomization, patients subsequently assigned to receive oxygen had significantly greater pain and nausea. On arrival at the hospital, oxygen saturation was higher in the 50 patients given oxygen (99% +/- 1 % vs 96% +/- 2%; P<.001) than in the 50 patients who breathed air. Reported pain remained greater in the oxygen group. However, those given oxygen had less nausea (22 +/- 29 vs 54 +/- 38 mm; P<.001) and vomiting (4 vs 19 episodes; P<.001), lower heart rates (86 +/- 12 vs 94 +/- 13 beats/min; P<.001), and higher overall satisfaction scores (54 +/- 33 vs 33 +/- 23 mm; P<.001).

Conclusion: Our results indicate that supplemental oxygen during ambulance transport reduced nausea scores by 50% and decreased vomiting 4-fold. Consequently, patients reported greater satisfaction with their care. Thus, we recommend that patients be given supplemental oxygen during ambulance transport.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulances*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / prevention & control*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vomiting / prevention & control*