User Question: Why Do I Need a Prescription to Buy a Concentrator?

To purchase an oxygen concentrator, you do need a prescription from your doctor, stating your oxygen level. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) makes the rules about prescription sales, and at this time, oxygen concentrators are one of the medical devices for which the FDA requires a prescription. This is to ensure proper care has been taken in selling you an oxygen machine that is appropriate for your needs, and a prescription is the only evidence we have of exactly what those needs are.

The oxygen concentrator you purchase and use is also largely determined by your prescription, and that's why you may have completely different needs from your friend who also uses supplemental oxygen, even if you both have the respiratory condition. Several important health indicators factor into a prescription for supplemental oxygen that results from a pulse oximetry test and arterial blood gas test.

Some patients who require oxygen therapy only need it when they are exercising, while others only need it while they are sleeping, and others need it for a few hours out of the day no matter what they are doing. Some patients need continuous flow oxygen, while others only need pulse dose. Exactly which type of dosage you need, how many hours out of the day you need it, and at which setting is determined by your doctor.

Your physician will administer tests to find out how much oxygen you require. They will have blood drawn for an ABG test (arterial blood gas) to check your blood gases, as well as use a pulse oximeter to monitor your blood oxygen level. The doctor will also check to see if your blood oxygen levels change drastically during exercise or while you are sleeping. Once your doctor has some measurements relating to blood oxygenation, they can write your prescription for your oxygen requirements.

Selecting the Correct Concentrator

After you receive your prescription our highly trained Oxygen Specialists will assist you in selecting the correct concentrator that will best suit your needs and lifestyle. For example, if you need a continuous flow of 3 LPM, that only narrows down the available units.

Next, we will discuss how often you will need to use your 3 LPM. Eight hours per day, during the daytime? A few hours during the morning before you leave the house? While you exercise? Only during the night? These other prescribed factors will help you narrow your search down even more.

Your prescription is a formalized way of ensuring your safety. Like all crucial medical information, you want to be sure that in an emergency, the people helping you are aware of your exact physiological need for supplemental oxygen. If you plan an airplane flight, you should notify the airline ahead of time because they may want more than just your prescription; you may be required to give them some extra certification from your physician.

After your doctor has prescribed you oxygen, we encourage you to call us for a free oxygen consultation. We will evaluate your needs and lifestyle and recommend a unit that is ideal for you.

Updated: September 17, 2019
Published: May 4, 2014

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

22 thoughts on “User Question: Why Do I Need a Prescription to Buy a Concentrator?”

  • Al Smith

    Where in the US code or Code of Federal Regulations is the requirement for a prescription to purchase oxygen?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      You may find this law specified here: 21 U.S. Code § 360ddd–1 - Regulation of medical gases

      Feel free to review the law that specifies a prescription is required for medically controlled substances both here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/360ddd-1 and here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/353.

      Reply
  • Jim

    Exactly Al Smith. This is a total nonsense interpretation that is not founded in the law.

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      You may find this law specified here: 21 U.S. Code § 360ddd–1 - Regulation of medical gases

      Feel free to review the law that specifies a prescription is required for medically controlled substances both here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/360ddd-1 and here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/353.

      Reply
  • tsinn

    360ddd-1(b)(2)(a) states:
    "Oxygen may be provided without a prescription for the following uses: (i) For use in the event of depressurization or other environmental oxygen deficiency. (ii) For oxygen deficiency or for use in emergency resuscitation, when administered by properly trained personnel."

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, this is correct, in the cases of severe emergencies oxygen can be delivered by trained personnel and for environmental depressurization (most commonly for emergencies on aircrafts - this is why attendants show how to place the overhead oxygen masks on before take off)

      Reply
  • Randseed Bin

    On Amazon.com you can buy oxygen concentrators from $250-600 without any prescription. The main problem is that they usually don't provide an oxygen purity level of over 75%. There are also "Oxygen Bars" where you can pay to get a few minutes of concentrated oxygen. Furthermore, you can buy tanks of oxygen in many hardware and automotive supply stores. This law is clearly designed to increase revenues for the medical establishment.

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman March 26, 2019 at 5:22 am

      None of these options are medical grade oxygen and are not meant for long term health benefits like people with COPD. You are correct in that the oxygen purity levels do not go over 75%. A person with a lung-related illness needs oxygen purity at a much higher standard to live.

      Reply
      • Frank Petrucci

        I bet there one that does meet the requirements.. prescription law for oxygen is unreasonable and therefore not really a law.

        Reply
        • Corey Dyben

          Dear Mr. Petrucci,

          Currently, the FDA does require a prescription for medical grade oxygen. If you have been prescribed oxygen and need help selecting the best solution, please give us a call at: 1-877-644-4581.

          Sincerely,

          The AMSR Team

          Reply
  • Donald McHale

    I have prescription for oxygen concentrator machine from my doctor. It states I am on 2 LPM and has ICD code - R06.00. Is this all I need

    Reply
    • Ed Rodgers

      It is an important part! But there are several other things that would be needed such as if it is pulse or continuous and what your mobility needs are. If you give us a call, we can help align your prescription to the best machine for your lifestyle. Give us a call at (855)838-0926 andsome one can help you get you on your way!

      Reply
  • Daniel Allen

    What does the Doctor need to put on the prescription to get a portable oxygen contactor

    Reply
    • Ed Rodgers

      Hi Daniel, typically it is the amount of oxygen, frequency and length of time that the patient requires to be on oxygen. When you meet with the doctor, they will assess your needs and use a Oximeter as well as your medical condition to determine the oxygen requirements. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  • Samie Wythe

    I have purchased a oxygen concentior from e-bay but have problems purchasing supplies such as rubber hose. Why do I have to have Dr order for them? & will Medicare pay for them?

    Reply
  • Marty

    What if an oxygen concentrator is not designed to be, or designated, a "medical device". A non-medical oxygen concentrator would then not require a prescription, correct? Is concentrated oxygen a controlled substance, or are "medical devices" controlled items?

    Reply
  • Deb

    So, an EWOT business needs to obtain a prescription if o2 is over 85%? If my concentrator is over the 85% each customer needs a prescription still confused? Thanks all

    Reply
    • Corey Dyben

      Dear Deb,

      Patients are required to provide a prescription for oxygen. Please give us a call at: 1-877-644-4581 and we can explain options further.

      Sincerely,

      The AMSR Team

      Reply
  • Tammy

    Hello - Everytime I travel by plane, I must rent oxygen as my oxygen level falls into the 80’s at such elevation. I also must use oxygen at night with my CPAP. I do not meet the criteria for full time oxygen, which is good, but it’s costing me a mint renting Inogen one when traveling. I have made three trips to China. Rental totaled $700 each time. Soon I will travel to National Jewish Health by plane. Inogen rental will be at least $400. Any suggestions?
    Tammy

    Reply
    • Scott Ridl

      Based on how much you travel it would be much more cost effective you actually purchase a unit for travel. Give us a call at 877-644-4581 and we can discuss your options.

      Reply

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