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We used a high-flow nasal cannula with a patient who required a high fraction of inspired oxygen but could not tolerate a nasal or facial mask. We saw a 92-year-old woman with delirium and dementia in the intensive care unit for multi-lobar pneumonia with severe hypoxemia. Attempts to oxygenate the patient failed because she was unable to tolerate various facial and nasal masks. We then tried a high-flow nasal cannula (Vapotherm 2000i), which she tolerated well, and she had marked improvement in gas exchange and quality of life. The patient had severe health-care-associated pneumonia, accompanied by delirium and hypoxemia. It became apparent that the patient's death was imminent, and the goal of therapy was palliative. She had previously clearly expressed a desire not to undergo intubation and mechanical ventilation. In a situation where the patient was agitated and unable to tolerate a mask, the high-flow cannula reduced her agitation and improved her dyspnea, oxygenation, tolerance of oxygen therapy, and comfort at the end of life. Oxygen via high-flow cannula may enhance quality of life by reducing hypoxemia in patients who are unable to tolerate a mask but need a high oxygen concentration.
- Correspondence: Tatjana P Calvano DO,Internal Medicine Department, Brooke Army Medical Center, 3851 Roger Brooke Drive, Fort Sam Houston TX 78234. Email: .
The views and findings in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the position of the Army Medical Department, Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense. The authors report no conflicts of interest related to the content of this paper.
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