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Oxygen Therapy Terms You Should Know

Oxygen Therapy Terms You Should Know

At Fresh Air Medical, we know there is industry-related language used between doctors, therapists, and others in the oxygen field. The use of these words can be very confusing for anyone who doesn’t work in this industry and make an already difficult process even worse. In this article, we will try to define the jargon that gets used in conversations with and around you.

An Oxygen Concentrator is a medical device that delivers almost pure oxygen through the nose via a nasal cannula (“nose prongs”). An oxygen concentrator works much like a window air conditioning unit: it takes in air, modifies it and delivers it in a pure form. An oxygen concentrator takes in air and purifies it for use by people requiring medical oxygen due to low oxygen levels in their blood.

Home Oxygen Concentrator, HOC, is designed to be your at-home, continuous flow oxygen therapy device. Inside the home, the home oxygen concentrator is placed in a location. Long oxygen tubing (can be up to 50’) is used to deliver oxygen to you as you move about doing regular activities or when you are asleep at night. Stationary Concentrator is another term used in place of Home Oxygen Concentrator.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator, POC, is a prescribed device used to provide oxygen therapy to people that require greater oxygen concentrations than the levels of ambient air. It is similar to a home oxygen concentrator (HOC) but is smaller in size and more mobile. They are small enough to carry, and many are now FAA-approved for use on airplanes. These devices also allow you to switch from AC power at home, to DC power in your vehicle, to the unit’s own internal battery for true freedom and portability.

DME stands for durable medical equipment. An example of DME’s would include wheelchairs, hospital beds, canes/crutches and, oxygen concentrators.

Provider is a Medicare-approved person or company that provides a healthcare service to you. Sometimes, the term refers only to physicians. However, the term also applies to other health care professionals such as hospitals, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, physical therapists, and others offering specialized health care services.

Short-Term Rental is the renting of a home or portable oxygen concentrator to a user for a short duration at a cost – typically two weeks or less.

Long-Term rental is a term used by providers. Equipment is rented by providers to oxygen users on a long-term, monthly rental contract that usually lasts years.

Continuous Flow delivers oxygen continuously at a steady, specified rate. It is easiest to understand when you liken it to a water fountain. When you turn on a water fountain, water streams out at a somewhat steady pace. The fountain will continue to deliver water to you at this pace regardless of how much water you consume.

Pulse Dose delivers oxygen in pulses or puffs of air with each breath. The delivery of air is more similar to drinking water from a straw than a fountain; the delivery is more controlled, like from a straw, you consume what you take in. The device only puts out oxygen when you breath in, you are saving (or “conserving”) oxygen and a tank will last longer. Other common names are Bolus Dose, Puffer, Intermittent or On-Demand.

Conserver is a device that is attached to tanks to control the flow of oxygen. A conserver will turn the tank into a pulse dose apparatus allowing for the tank to last longer.

LPM or Liters per Minute is the measurement used to determine the amount of oxygen delivered. All continuous flow oxygen concentrators are measured in Liters per Minute (LPM). For example, 2 LPM means 2 liters of oxygen per minute being delivered to the user.

Pulse dose delivery methods use Settings – These settings determine the amount of oxygen being delivered. The settings do not correlate to liter flow.They should be thought of as arbitrary settings.Thus, if a machine has settings of 1, 2, and 3, 3 is a higher amount than 1 or 2; but it isn’t necessarily equating to flowrates of 1, 2, or 3.

Pulse Oximeter – Because the pulse dose delivery model is not true liter flow, when a patient uses a pulse dose or conserver unit for the first time, they should be monitored with a pulse oximeter to ensure that their body is tolerating the adjusted amount of oxygen they are receiving.

The Maximum Oxygen Output is the maximum amount of oxygen that a pulse dose unit can produce. The output is calculated by summing the volume of the puffs that can be delivered on each setting.

–Note: Oxygen is a prescription drug, meaning a physician’s order is required for any company to dispense it.This applies to oxygen cylinders and concentrator devices (both portable and stationary) as well.

Hopefully, with this list of terms, you feel more confident to navigate the world of oxygen. If there is anything else confusing you, Fresh Air Medical is here to help you figure it all out.