How can you identify a COPD patient who relies on hypoxic drive?

It has been suggested that clinicians are occasionally hesitant and even fearful when prescribing oxygen for the CO2-retaining COPD patient because of concerns over increasing hypercapnia. We have been taught that prescribing oxygen does more good than harm if a patient is clearly distressed and should not be denied to any COPD patient in the ED, as only ~5% rely on hypoxic drive to ventilate.

How can we recognise the patients who actually rely on hypoxic drive?

Authored By Stephen McAleer on Saturday 10th November 2012