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Pathophysiology and Classification of Respiratory Failure

Lamba, Tejpreet Singh MD; Sharara, Rihab Saeed MD; Singh, Anil C. MD, MPH, FCCP; Balaan, Marvin MD, FCCP

Critical Care Nursing Quarterly: April/June 2016 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 85–93
doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000102
Original Articles

Respiratory failure is a condition in which the respiratory system fails in one or both of its gas exchange functions. It is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients admitted to intensive care units. It is a result of either lung failure, resulting in hypoxemia, or pump failure, resulting in alveolar hypoventilation and hypercapnia. This article covers the basic lung anatomy, pathophysiology, and classification of respiratory failure.

Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Allegheny Health Network/Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence: Tejpreet Singh Lamba, MD, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Allegheny Health Network, Allegheny General Hospital, 320 East North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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