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.