Tricky Oxygen Therapy Terms Users Should Know

As we have been in business since 2001, we have come to realize that there is industry – related jargon that is used among as well as providers, doctors, and others in the oxygen field. This can be very confusing for anyone who doesn’t work in this industry and make an already difficult process even worse. Below, we have tried to define the tricky terms that get tossed around frequently; hopefully, this will help alleviate any headaches!

Oxygen Concentrator: an oxygen concentrator is a device that concentrates ambient air and delivers it to the user. Oxygen concentrators do not store oxygen, compared to other oxygen delivery systems such as tanks. Oxygen concentrators come in two types – home (also known as stationary) concentrators and portable concentrators.

Home Oxygen Concentrator/HOC/Stationary Concentrator: These are terms for concentrators that work only off of AC (wall) power. These are typically larger and are used at night or while at home during the day.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator/POC: A portable oxygen concentrator is a concentrator that is smaller and more mobile. Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs) run on lithium-ion batteries as well as DC (car) and AC (wall) power.

DME: DME stands for durable medical equipment. This would include wheelchairs, hospital beds, canes/crutches and, oxygen concentrators.

Provider: A provider is a Medicare-approved provider of durable medical equipment. Also can be referred to as “a DME.”

Short-Term Rental: A short-term rental refers to a rental of a home or portable oxygen concentrator for a short duration – typically two weeks or less.

Monthly Rental/Long-Term Rental: A monthly rental/long-term rental is a term used by providers. Providers will rent their oxygen equipment to the user on a long-term, monthly rental contract that usually lasts years.

Continuous Flow: 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: Pulse dose delivers oxygen in pulses or puffs of air with each breath. This is more similar to drinking water from a straw; the delivery is more controlled, and you consume what you take in. This is also referred to as a “bolus dose.”

Puffer: Another term for Pulse Dose.

Intermittent: Another term for Pulse Dose or Puffer.

On-Demand: Another term for Pulse Dose, Puffer or Intermittent

Conserver: A conserver is a device that is attached to tanks. This will turn the tank into a pulse dose or puffer apparatus allowing for the tank to last longer.

LPM: Liters per Minute. This 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. This is not a measure of pressure.

Settings: Pulse dose delivery methods use settings – these determine the amount of oxygen being delivered. The settings ROUGHLY correlate to liters per minute but do vary by machine. While a continuous flow oxygen concentrator will deliver 2 LPM, regardless of the user’s breathing, a pulse dose delivery method, on a setting of 2, would deliver the equivalent of 2 LPM in the pulse or puff of oxygen, upon inhalation.

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

Hopefully, with this list of terms, we can help you better navigate the world of oxygen.

Have more questions about Oxygen Therapy Terms?

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.

4 thoughts on “Tricky Oxygen Therapy Terms Users Should Know”

  • Wilma

    I understand that air travel for people on oxygen is dangerous, with a portable concentrator. Is it safer to have the airline provide continuous flow oxygen?

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman July 12, 2018 at 10:37 am

      Traveling by air with a portable oxygen concentrator is safe. In fact, portable oxygen concentrators are FAA approved.

  • thomas

    what to do if your oxygen level is good but you stillhave shortness of breath


Leave a Comment