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Effect of Altitude in Oxygenation in Patients

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Introduction

The saturation of oxygen in the blood is less in patients in high altitude more than in low altitude. Patients being flown for medical attention using some more efficient means called the air ambulance have shown that they have less concentration of oxygen in the ambulance more than when they are driven by the normal land ambulances we have. This may be due to the different pressure levels that are experienced as the altitude difference increases. Many different things have been used in order to equalize the low pressure in the cabins.

Oxygen cylinders are normally placed in the cabins due to this problem although patients are advised not to come with their own cylinders. Patients with auditory problems have also had such problems although the medics in the plane try their level best to equalize the pressure.

In general, pressure decreases due to a high altitude. This normally causes the oxygen level in the atmosphere to decrease thus low oxygen intake by an individual. All this leads to the low oxygen levels when a patient is in the plane (Wilmore & Kenney, 2008).

Study objectives

The main objective in this paper is to know how the altitude levels affect the concentration of oxygen in the blood. As observed over a long period of time, patients being carried by an air ambulance, have low oxygen concentrations in their blood more than patients who are carried by the other land ambulance. This is mostly associated with the difference in altitude levels.

The oxygen level in a patient is measured by a pulse oxymeter device. In this case, thirty one patients were being measured. The measuring takes place before the flight take off, when the airplane is in the air and after the airplane has landed.

In all these stages, a patient is seen to have different oxygen levels in the blood. The when the plane is down, the patient has higher oxygen levels than when the patient is in the air.

Methods

There are different methods that might be used in order to get some information or in order to gather some statistics. These methods are all used in order to ensure that the information gathered is more accurate and of significance. One of the methods I have used is talking to people. This is not just any person that I find but people that have either been flown to the hospital by an airplane or had close people (family members or relatives) who had been flown so that they had escorted for treatment.

Though it was not easy finding them or getting them to talk, it was worth it for they told me some of the difficulties they experienced especially related to altitude and oxygenation. One of the major difficulties and one that is experienced in normal flights is the nausea feeling. This is a problem caused by the pressure difference and the sudden change of altitude levels. The feeling of some kind of the middle ear blockage is other inconveniences that patients complained about.

Another research method I used is having personal interviews with patients who had been air flown, people who had been with people who were being air flown or were from being air flown, medical personnel who were in the air the air ambulance department and other people who I felt could of importance to me. This research has been carried out from the January of 2009 to the December of 2010. Personal interviews helped me to gather as much possible they also avoid the use of third person’s interpretation and findings. I interviewed a couple of medical practitioners who were in this department (Garrett & Kirkendall, 2000).

These people got to brief me on some of the problems and difficulties the patient passengers complained about during the take off, the flight and during landing. Though there a couple of things that have been done to improve this problems/difficulties, it still cannot be called a stress free journey.

Another method I used is reading literature material associated with air ambulance, altitude and oxygenation.  Though it might not be up to date, it helps in assessing the current situation and the past events. It also helps one know what other people said or thought in the past.

Literature by Mahadevan and Garmel (2005), Aerospace Medical Association (2007), Hurd and Jernigan (2003), Tice and Rankin, just to mention but a few are some of the places I have gotten information from. I have also visited online sites which have also proved of some help to me. One of the sites I visited was the U.S Air Ambulance site.

Data Analysis

As seen a number of people really experienced a lot of difficulties during the flight and especially during the take off and the landing. Nausea was one of the problems that are mostly experienced although it is also experienced in other normal flights. Other problems experienced are mostly due to the effect of the pressure trying to equalize. The blockage of the middle year was also felt although there are remedies provided to these problems (Blackburn, 2007).

The other difficulty felt is that of hypoxemia. This is a situation whereby there is decreased pressure in blood oxygen. This is made worse because the passenger is already sick. This may sometimes bring another whole bunch of problems like difficulty in breathing, nose bleeding, headaches, just to mention but a few.

Though these problems are not as bad as they were first experienced, they really have not been completely eliminated. Remedies have been put in place to improve the situation and to make the flights as comfortable as possible; we surely cannot say that we are going to travel with no discomforts here and there. In some cases the customer is advised to chew gum in order to reduce the pressure in the middle ear if they are in a position to (Mehadevan & Garmel, 2005).

Oxygen masks are also given to these patients so that the oxygen pressure in the blood is regulated. Patients are encouraged to lie down and are frequently turned to avoid tissue loss or other types of discomforts (Wilkerson, 2010).

Ethics

This research involves the study of people’s bodies and their blood behavior in relation to the oxygen levels. This means that there are groups, organizations or bodies that I need to clear with so as to follow the proper ethical procedures. I cleared with the medical board in order to a go ahead on working with the patients I flew. This enabled me work with ease without fear of getting in to trouble with the concerned authorities (Frisancho, 1993).

I also cleared with the human rights organizations just to make sure that I was not interfering with anybody’s privacy and that I was carrying out this activity on their pure consent. I also adhered to some of the rules the patients gave me with the promise that they would fully corporate. Some of this rules were that I would withhold their names or relatives’ names from any reports I was to give out, I would not get anybody involved who was not necessary, just to mention but a few (Hornbein, 2001).

Timing

This research commenced from January 2009 and has been continuing till December 2010. The following table shows the activities that have taken place and will continue until this research is complete (Plowman & Smith, 2007).

As seen above, different activities are seen to occupy different months. This is to ensure that no month is left without any activity while others are full of activities. This research is intended to take at most two years so that accurate and analyzed results can be found (Hurd & Jernigan, 2003).

Funding

The funding of this project has mostly come from my pockets. I am expecting to get some help from a health non governmental organization that supports such kinds of projects. The other source of my funding is from friends and family members who are willing to give me a helping hand in order to see me through to the completion of this research (Baker, 2008).

Problems

I have encountered a few problems or challenges here and there during this research. One of the major challenges that I have and will continue encountering is the financial problem. I have had a lot of challenges getting the funding of this project. Convincing people and organizations to support me has not been an easy job. Some have called me names and made look like a fool in front of people (Hurd & Jernigan, 2003).

Another challenge is getting patients to take part in the exercise. This is not easy as most of them think that there is something more to this than just the research. Getting a chance to get an airplane to fly them myself will also be another challenge although I hope to overcome all this challenges (Farris, 2008).

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