Decompression sickness: A guide for emergency nurses

Stephen McGhee, Juan Manuel Gonzalez, Carmen Rosa Presti, Robert Hare

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Decompression sickness (DCS) is commonly associated with diving or occupational exposure to compressed air, and is a life-threatening condition if left untreated. This article provides an overview of the pathophysiology and types of DCS. It also explains the principles of care for people presenting to the emergency department with DCS that emergency nurses must be familiar with, including the recognition of its signs and symptoms and the initial management required. It is important that emergency nurses are aware of the optimal treatment protocol for DCS, which involves its early recognition, prompt administration of high-flow oxygen and referral to the nearest hyperbaric chamber for recompression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEmergency Nurse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 5 2019


  • Clinical skills
  • Emergency care
  • Emergency services
  • Nursing care
  • Oxygen therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency


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