A Retrospective Analysis of Adverse Events in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (2012-2015): Lessons Learned From 1.5 Million Treatments

Adv Skin Wound Care. 2017 Mar;30(3):125-129. doi: 10.1097/01.ASW.0000508712.86959.c9.


Objective: To describe the distribution and occurrence of adverse events recorded during hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy from 2012 to 2015. In this analysis, events are defined as otic/sinus barotrauma, confinement anxiety, hypoglycemia, oxygen toxicity, pneumothorax, seizure, and shortness of breath.

Data and analysis: The data for the analysis were drawn from a proprietary electronic health data system that contained information on 1,529,859 hyperbaric treatments administered during 53,371 treatment courses from 2012 to 2015 in outpatient wound care centers across the United States managed by Healogics, Inc, Jacksonville, Florida.

Results: Of the 1.5 million treatments included in the analysis, 0.68% were associated with an adverse event. Barotrauma and confinement anxiety were the most frequently reported events. Medically severe events were extremely uncommon, with fewer than 0.05 instances of oxygen toxicity per 1000 treatments and only 1 confirmed case of pneumothorax.

Conclusions: Results indicate that the occurrence of adverse events associated with HBO therapy is infrequent and typically not serious. The findings of this study suggest that when administered according to the appropriate therapeutic protocols HBO therapy is a safe and low-risk intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Barotrauma / etiology
  • Central Nervous System / injuries
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / adverse effects*
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical History Taking / methods
  • Paranasal Sinuses / injuries
  • Phobic Disorders / etiology
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Seizures / etiology
  • United States