The use of high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy is growing as an alternative to standard oxygen. However, its use in patients treated for malignancies, including hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) patients, is controversial. In this retrospective cohort study, we assessed outcomes of pediatric cancer and HSCT patients (including nonmalignant indications) with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure
treated with HFNC on the ward. Among 39 patients included in the study, 53 episodes of HFNC treatment were analyzed. Of these episodes, 18 (34%) failed and patients required subsequently pediatric intensive care unit
(PICU) admission. A significant median higher C reactive protein (175 [range, 72 to 308] vs. 80 [13.5 to 187.8] mg/dL; P
=0.006) and higher Bedside Pediatric Early Warning Score (PEWS) 1 to 4 hours after initiation of HFNC (10.1±0.8 vs. 7.1±0.4; P
=0.001) was found in the failure group compared with the nonfailure group. Among the 18 patients admitted to PICU, 14 (78%) needed intubation. Five (28%) patients died during their PICU admission. In summary, one third of the pediatric cancer and HSCT patients receiving HFNC on the ward eventually required PICU admission of which 78% were intubated. C reactive protein and BedsidePEWS 1 to 4 hours after initiation of HFNC were significantly associated with the need for PICU admission. However, no firm conclusion can be drawn whether HFNC treatment should actually be initiated in the ward in this vulnerable patient population. Larger, prospective studies are needed to evaluate the most appropriate treatment and setting (PICU or general ward) for these patients.