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Hyperbaric programs in the United States: Locations and capabilities of treating decompression sickness, arterial gas embolisms, and acute carbon monoxide poisoning: survey results.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the primary treatment for arterial gas embolism, decompression sickness and acute carbon monoxide poisoning. Though there has been a proliferation of hyperbaric centers throughout the United States, a scarcity of centers equipped to treat emergency indications makes transport of patients necessary. To locate and characterize hyperbaric chambers capable of treating emergency cases, a survey of centers throughout the entire United States was conducted. Using Google, Yahoo, HyperbaricLink and the UHMS directory, a database for United States chambers was created. Four researchers called clinicians from the database to administer the survey. All centers were contacted for response until four calls went unreturned or a center declined to be included. The survey assessed chamber readiness to respond to high-acuity patients, including staff availability, use of medical equipment such as ventilators and intravenous infusion devices, and responding yes to treating hyperbaric emergencies within a 12-month period. Only 43 (11.9%, N = 361) centers had equipment, intravenous infusion pumps and ventilators, and staff necessary to treat high-acuity patients. Considering that a primary purpose of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the treatment of arterial gas embolism and decompression sickness, more hyperbaric centers nationwide should be able to accommodate these emergency cases quickly and safely.

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