Background: Long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) improves prognosis in COPD with severe hypoxemia. However, adherence to criteria for eligibility and quality of LTOT is often insufficient and varies between countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate a national structure for prescription and management of LTOT over three decades in Sweden. Methods: The study was a prospective, population-based study of 23,909 patients on LTOT from 1987 to 2015 in the Swedish National Register of Respiratory Failure (Swedevox). We assessed the prevalence, incidence, and structure of LTOT; completeness of registration in Swedevox; and validity of prescription and management of LTOT in Sweden according to seven published quality indicators. Results: LTOT was prescribed by 48 respiratory or medicine units and managed mainly by specialized oxygen nurses. Swedevox had a stable completeness of 85% of patients starting LTOT since 1987. The national incidence of LTOT increased from 3.9 to 14.7/100,000 inhabitants over the time period. In 2015, 2,596 patients had ongoing therapeutic LTOT in the registry, a national prevalence of 31.6/100,000. Adherence to prescription recommendations and fulfillment of quality criteria was stable or improved over time. Of patients starting LTOT in 2015, 88% had severe hypoxemia (partial pressure of arterial oxygen [PaO2] < 7.4 kPa) and 97% had any degree of hypoxemia (PaO2 < 8.0 kPa); 98% were prescribed oxygen ≥15 hours/day or more; 76% had both stationary and mobile oxygen equipment; 75% had a mean PaO2> 8.0 kPa breathing oxygen; and 98% were non-smokers. Conclusion: We present a structure for prescription, management, and follow-up of LTOT. The national registry effectively monitored adherence to prescription recommendations and most likely contributed to improved quality of care.
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