Supplemental oxygen, at normal or hyperbaric pressures, is the primary treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning. Hyperbaric
oxygen therapy (HBOT) dissolves additional oxygen in the blood plasma and has been shown to block all known cellular mechanisms
of CO toxicity. HBOT is also used to treat smoke inhalation in firefighters and other fire victims who suffer carbon monoxide
poisoning complicated by
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
page in the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society resource library to learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning, the rationale
for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and key clinical evidence, outcomes, and success factors. There are restrictions on timeframe during
which hyperbaric oxygen should be used for this condition.
Every year CO poisoning accounts for some 50,000
emergency room visits
and kills about
by accidental exposure alone. US fire departments respond to seven nonfire CO incidents every
hour [ NFPA, 2005 ]. For more than 50 years emergency physicians have been increasing their use of
hyperbaric oxygen to treat acute carbon monoxide poisoning, yet access to emergency-ready hyperbaric chambers remains
a public health resource deficiency in the United States.
Since 2008 the UHMS has participated in the CDC
national surveillance system
for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Findings from nearly 2,000 cases at 87 hyperbaric facilities in 39 states are just now emerging for careful analysis and
publication. These data will make a welcome addition to the medical literature, which currently lacks the strongest evidence,
from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), to support the routine use of hyperbaric oxygen for acute CO poisoning.
[ Cochrane, 2011 ]