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Hypoxemia: Low blood oxygen levels can have damaging impacts

Some medical conditions impact how much oxygen is in the blood. For example, a baby who is in distress during labor or delivery might not get sufficient blood to the brain. A lack of oxygen in the blood is known as hypoxemia. Individuals who have this condition can suffer damage to various organs in the body, including the brain, heart, lungs, limbs, and other internal organs.

When a patient shows up at the hospital or a doctor's office with potential hypoxemia, getting them oxygen is critical. The longer the body goes without it, the worse the damage can be. Typically, a person's arterial oxygen is 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury, and individuals with good oxygen will have a pulse oximeter reading of 95 to 100%. A person who has an arterial oxygen of less than 60 mm Hg or a pulse ox of 90% or less has low readings and needs supplemental support.

Many different conditions can lead to low oxygen levels. While the priority is often getting the person oxygen, the need to treat the underlying condition is also present. Some of the possible conditions that might cause hypoxemia include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Emphysema
  • Anemia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumothorax

When a person doesn't receive swift treatment, they might suffer from brain damage and other complications. This can dramatically impact their life. It is imperative that doctors take appropriate action in these cases. The patient might choose to seek compensation for the financial damages if they have to deal with impacts that stem from substandard medical care or negligence.

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