It is common to hear the term that your patient is a "CO2 retainer". But what does that mean? and how do you use oxygen on a patient who is a "CO2 retainer"? The following video by ED4Nurses provides some assistance to answer these questions, as well as an overview of the physiology of COPD. After reviewing the video, reflect on your practice in the ward setting. How do you currently use oxygen therapy on your patient who is a CO2 retainer? What changes could you make to your practice to ensure that your patient does not become acutely hypoxic? How can you better monitor your patient when providing oxygen therapy?

So you can see from this video, that it is important to keep the oxygen saturations of a patient with COPD to 90-92% however more importantly, monitoring of respiratory rate and arterial blood gases are the keys to managing a patient with an acute exacerbation of COPD. A patient with a high respiratory rate, in obvious distress and using accessory muscles to breath needs prompt medical attention as they will tire easily. Such a patient will develop changes in their arterial blood gases that if not managed carefully will lead to your patient's condition deteriorating. Patients in acute respiratory distress should be managed as a medical emergency.