Hospital-Based Hyperbaric Facilities

Hyperbaric treatment centers located in hospitals are able to treat a range of conditions for a variety of patients. Hospital-based hyperbaric facilities treat both patients admitted to a hospital bed (inpatients) and those who travel to the hospital for treatment (outpatients). Hospital inpatients and outpatients enjoy direct access to the other departments and services without leaving the facility or the supervision of its medical staff. A hospital is the most appropriate venue for those who require emergency or intensive care.

Emergency Treatment

At some full-service hospitals the hyperbaric program works closely with emergency and intensive care services. These facilities are best prepared to treat cases of:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Decompression sickness
  • Necrotizing infections
  • Thermal burns
  • Other acute life-threatening conditions

Total hyperbaric emergency preparedness requires 24/7 staffing and chamber access, the ability to handle mass casualties, and advanced monitoring equipment.

Other Treatment

Specialty hospitals, such as rehabilitation hospitals, do not provide emergency services but focus instead on chronic wounds and other conditions that require long-term specialty care.

Most hospitals provide hyperbaric treatment for the following approved conditions:

  • Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
  • Radionecrosis (radiation injuries resulting from cancer treatment)
  • Skin grafts and flaps
  • Traumatic ischemias (loss of blood flow to tissue as a result of injury)
  • Crush injuries

Investigational Conditions and Clinical Trials

Some hospitals today participate in clinical investigations of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for medical conditions not yet cleared and approved for routine hyperbaric treatment. Patients who meet the criteria of the study may receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy as part of the study. Before beginning hyperbaric treatment for such investigational or “off-label” conditions, the hospital requires the patient’s consent and formal enrollment in the clinical trial.

Patients may confirm the legitimacy and other details of the research trial by reviewing its record in the ClinicalTrials.gov database. This site, a service of the US National Institutes of Health, maintains a database of clinical studies of human participants conducted in the United States and around the world. Patients should question the legitimacy of any study not listed here.

Doctors and Staff

The medical staff of a hospital-based treatment center is usually led by one or more physicians with a specialty certification in hyperbaric medicine as well as other certifications in related disciplines, such as emergency medicine, preventive care, surgery, or pulmonary medicine. Nurses and hyperbaric technicians are usually certified in hyperbaric treatment, wound care, and other relevant medical disciplines.

Hyperbaric Chambers

Hospitals may use multiplace or monoplace hyperbaric chambers or both.

Multiplace chambers can be equipped with advanced patient monitoring and clinical systems. In multiplace chambers clinicians can accompany the patient during hyperbaric treatment and continue other therapy during hyperbaric treatment sessions. Such flexibility is particularly important in emergency or intensive care situations. The entire multiplace chamber is pressurized, and each patient wears a mask or hood filled with 100% oxygen. Multiplace chambers at some hospital-based treatment centers are equipped with multiple airlocks, so staff can simultaneously treat two or more patient groups.

Monoplace chambers provide individualized hyperbaric treatment to one patient at a time. The entire monoplace chamber is pressurized and filled with 100% oxygen during treatment, so the patient does not need to wear a mask or hood. Hospitals frequently use monoplace chambers to treat nonhealing wounds and other chronic conditions.

 Learn more about hyperbaric chamber types and their benefits.

Hyperbaric Chamber Types

Accreditation and Certification

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) accredits select hospital-based hyperbaric treatment centers. UHMS accredited centers have met rigorous standards for clinical practice, patient safety, and other criteria.

Cost

Hospital-based hyperbaric oxygen treatment centers charge a premium for access to well-maintained equipment, expert staff, and other facility resources. A single 90-minute treatment may cost $1,000 or more. But hyperbaric oxygen therapy in hospitals is commonly covered by private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Treatment Center Directory

The HyperbaricLink directory provides extensive information about participating hyperbaric treatment centers, including:

  • treatment center type
  • practice areas and capabilities
  • accreditations and certifications
  • clinical staff
  • hyperbaric chamber types
  • hours of operation
  • map and directions
  • contact information

 Use the directory to learn more about hyperbaric facilities in your area.

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Updated: 31 Aug 2015 12:22 PM
Created: 08 Oct 2010 12:00 AM
By: About the authors »