Customer Question: Why Do I Need a Prescription to Buy an Oxygen 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 concentrator 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 might have completely different needs from your friend who also uses supplemental oxygen from an oxygen concentrator, even if you both have COPD. There are several important factors that go into a prescription for oxygen use.

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.

Educate yourself with our Free Oxygen Therapy Guide

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 you oxygen requirements.

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 day time? 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 unit that best fit both.

6 thoughts on “Customer Question: Why Do I Need a Prescription to Buy an Oxygen 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 bullshit 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

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