The treatment failed, requiring an escalation of care, in 87 of 739 patients (12%) in the high-flow group and 167 of 733 (23%) in the standard-therapy group. (risk difference = –11% points; 95% confidence interval, –15 to –7; P less than .001).
“The ease to use and simplicity of high flow made us recognize and think that this level of respiratory care can be provided outside intensive care,” Dr. Schibler said. “This was further supported by the observational fact that most of these infants with bronchiolitis showed a dramatically improved respiratory condition once on high flow.”
Dr. Schibler said there haven’t been any signs of adverse effects from high-flow oxygen therapy. As for the cost of the treatment, he said it is “likely offset by a reduced need for intensive care therapy or costs associated with transferring to a children’s hospital.”
What should physicians and hospitals take from the study findings? “If a hospital explores the option to use high flow in bronchiolitis, then start the therapy early in the disease process or once an oxygen requirement is recognized,” Dr. Schibler said. “Implementation of a solid and structured training program with a clear hospital guideline based on the evidence will ensure the staff who care for these patients will be empowered and comfortable to adjust the oxygen levels given by the high-flow equipment. The greater the confidence and comfort level for the nursing and respiratory technician staff the better for these infants, as they will sooner observe those infants who are not responding well and may require a higher level of care such as intensive care or they will recognize the infant who responds well.”