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Operation of a hyperbaric oxygen therapy center in Korea: Report of our experience from a setting in its nascent stages

Purpose: Hyperbaric medicine is nascent in Korea when compared to other developed countries, such as the United States and Japan. Our facility has been managed by physicians with certifications from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in diving and clinical diseases since October 2016. This study was conducted to share similar issues that are encountered during the establishment of a program in a new area through our experiences in the operation of a hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy center. 

Methods: In this retrospective observational study we collected data on HBO2 patients treated at our center between October 2016 and June 2018 after HBO2 was conducted by HBO2-certified physicians. We then compared demographic data of patients with data from January 2011 to September 2015 – before HBO2 operations were conducted by HBO2-certified physicians.

Result: A total of 692 patients received 5,130 treatments. Twelve indicated diseases were treated using HBO2 therapy. Fifty-six critically ill patients with intubation received HBO2. Although two patients experienced seizure due to oxygen toxicity during the study period, certified physicians and inside attendant took immediate corrective action.

Conclusion: After the establishment of the HBO2 center operated by physicians with certification, more patients, including critically ill patients, received HBO2 safely for various diseases. In order to improve the practice of hyperbaric medicine in Korea, the Korean Academy of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine (KAUHM), an advanced and well-organized academic society, should communicate often with HBO2 centers, with the aim to set Korean education programs at UHMS course levels and increase reimbursement for HBO2 therapy.

DOI: 10.22462/04.06.2019.6