Oxygen: A User's Perspective
The information here provided is for educational purposes only
and it is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional
medical advice. Always consult your own physician or healthcare
with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
About Oxygen Providers
Users covered under
Medicare Part B must select a single oxygen
provider to arrange all their oxygen needs. Users covered by medical
insurance must choose an approved oxygen provider. Users contemplating
using liquid oxygen must choose from among the oxygen providers who
liquid oxygen. If you live in a small community you may find your
narrowed by the above to one or two providers. Most
oxygen providers are firms that have long histories as medical
suppliers. Their basic role is to provide the medical hardware that
doctors prescribe for their patients, including crutches, hospital
and bedpans. Of all they provide, portable oxygen equipment is the most
challenging for them. All their drivers and customer service personnel
must have a basic understanding of oxygen therapy. They must have on
a respiratory therapist (RT) who understands how to meet a patient’s
requirements with oxygen.
like your physician, your oxygen provider must
be an approved provider of medical services. Whoever is your primary
insurer, Medicare or your insurance company, your provider must be
approved by them.
dedicated as each oxygen provider may be, you will
find subtle differences that may help you choose the one who meets your
you select a provider, you should interview several and get
satisfactory answers to questions like these:
Ask about preventive
maintenance on the equipment left in your
care.Your provider should be able to tell you how often your
concentrator is checked for correct flow and oxygen concentration, and
how often it is
replaced for refurbishing. You should also ask about preventive
maintenance on portables, reservoirs, and other rental or purchased
- How long have you been in business in this town?
- Do you have branches in other towns, particularly towns where I have family?
- Do you provide both liquid and
- How do you select a system (liquid
vs. compressed and
continuous flow vs. pulsating flow) for a patient?
- How often do you deliver oxygen to
- How often does your RT make home
- How quickly do you respond to
weekdays and weekends?
- How quickly do you replace
- Do you arrange for oxygen services
when I travel?
- How many branches does your
company have and where
are they located?
Your Provider Accredited?
Probably the most
important question to ask your proposed provider
is about accreditation. An accredited company is one that is
responsible to its patients, employees, stockholders, and community. Congress
accreditation in Medicare reform legislation of 2003. As of that year,
60 percent of health care companies were not accredited. What is
disturbing is 56 percent of those not accredited did not plan to become
accredited in 2004 (HomeCare
Magazine, December 2003).
Accredited companies will display their "Certification of
Accreditation" prominently. The certificate will be issued by JCAHO or one
of several other
accreditation agencies, including CHAP,
or ACHC. You can
by state or zip code for oxygen providers or scroll through
the list of those accredited by CHAP.
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Away From Home
you travel by air or motor car, you should ask about the cost of
services when you are on travel. Most oxygen companies with several
branches will provide you with the same services at these offices that
receive at your local office at no additional charge. Independent
oxygen providers may be able to provide no-cost services on a
When you travel by air,
you may incur two costs for oxygen--one for
oxygen before reaching or upon leaving the aircraft, and the other,
while aboard the aircraft. For more information see the section Flying
When you travel by
motor vehicle, you can carry all of your oxygen and
oxygen equipment with you, have all of your oxygen needs met along the
way, or a combination of the two. To learn more about ths see the
section on Motoring
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Other Users Say
Listen to what some
oxygen users say about how their providers handle
service for patients on travel.
Mary from Louisana
recently took a trip to visit our daughter in North Carolina. We called
our local provider who alerted a sister company near our daughter's
home that we were coming. We notified that company of our arrival and
all the oxygen and equipment was there when we arrived. We had
excellent service at
no extra charge.
Charlotte from San
I use to
travel full-time in a motor home. At the time I was on liquid oxygen
and carried my reservoir and portable tanks in the motor home. I also
carried my oxygen prescription and a list of the branches of my O2
company. When it came time to refill, I call a nearby branch a couple
of days in advance. Sometimes we drove to their offices for fill ups at
no additional cost. Other times they would deliver to our campsite for
charge of $50 which was billed back to my local branch.
Bill W. from San Diego
I'm on O2 24/7
and have been for several years. I
just got back to California from a three-week trip to the East Coast.
My home O2 provider arranged to have tanks and a concentrator delivered
to my son's house in Virginia before I arrived. They also arranged to
meet me at the airport to deliver 2 M-6 tanks on the plane so I could
from the airline O2 and get off. Wishing to sightsee up and down the
Coast, I loaded the tanks and concentrator in the car and took off.
I ran out of full tanks, I stopped at a branch office in Raleigh/Durham
to replace them. There was no charge for any of these services.
to pay a surcharge for extraordinary service, such as meeting
you at an airport, or service conducted outside of normal business
hours. For more information see the sections Preparing for Travel
and The Cost of Travel
under Motoring With O2 .
is a publication that lists providers by state and town and identifies
providers by airport location. (Breathin’ Easy Travel Guide ,
225 Daisy Dr., Napa, CA 94558, 707-252-9333,
Peter M. Wilson, Ph.D.
You have permission
to print this document for your personal use. You also have permission
print, copy, and distribute this document to oxygen users and their
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Last Modified: December 26,