Home Oxygen Program

More and more people are using oxygen therapy outside the hospital, permitting them to lead active, productive lives. People with asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, occupational lung disease, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, or congestive heart failure may use oxygen therapy at home. The Vancouver Island Health Authority in conjunction with the Ministry of Health administer the Home Oxygen Program to the residents of this region. Requests for home oxygen service are made by the attending physician on behalf of the patient.


There are three common ways of providing oxygen therapy:

  • Compressed gas - oxygen stored in a cylinder equipped with a regulator that controls the flow rate
  • Liquid oxygen - oxygen stored as a very cold liquid in a vessel very similar to a thermos, when released, the liquid converts to a gas and you breathe it in just like the compressed gas
  • Oxygen concentrator - electrically powered device that separated the oxygen out of the air, concentrates it, and stores it.

Oxygen Delivery Devices

  • Nasal cannula which is a two-pronged device inserted into the nostrils that is connected to tubing carrying the oxygen
  • Oxygen mask which is used for oxygen dependent patients requiring small amounts of oxygen
  • Transtracheal oxygen which is the insertion of a small flexible catheter in the trachea or windpipe.

Fire Safety

  • Do not smoke while using oxygen or allow anyone to smoke in the room where oxygen is being used.
  • Do not use oxygen within 10 feet of open flames (example fireplaces, gas stoves, matches).
  • Do not use equipment with frayed cords or electrical shorts; they could cause a spark.

Proper Storage and Handling of Oxygen

  • Store liquid and cylinder oxygen away from heat and direct sunlight.
  • Secure cylinders and place in an upright position.

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