What Is Medical Grade Oxygen and Why Do I Need a Prescription (Rx)?

Oxygen can be used for many reasons, from boosting athletic performance, to scuba diving, to welding and more. While these pursuits may use oxygen, the oxygen used in these situations is different from the medical grade oxygen used by patients during oxygen therapy. Medical oxygen is highly regulated by the FDA to ensure that the medical grade oxygen patients receive is safe and pure, meeting the standards for medical use. This is important because gas that does not meet these standards, called adulterated or misbranded by the FDA, is dangerous to patients who need supplemental oxygen. Medical grade oxygen is designed and regulated specifically to be used on a regular basis by patients demonstrating a medical need.[1]

Why Is an Oxygen Prescription Necessary for Medical Oxygen?Prescription

Because medical grade oxygen is considered a drug by the FDA, an oxygen prescription is required to obtain medical oxygen for patient use.[1] This helps ensure that you get a clear analysis of your oxygen requirements from a qualified medical professional along with the right oxygen device for your needs. This helps to ensure that the oxygen you receive is safe and pure, and created only for medical use. Plus, an oxygen prescription ensures that you know exactly how much oxygen to use, and when to use it, so that you are using your medical oxygen correctly for your unique needs. A prescription helps ensure that you use your medical oxygen only as directed.[2]

Getting an Oxygen Prescription and Medical Oxygen

In order to get an oxygen prescription, you will undergo a number of different tests to determine your blood oxygen levels and oxygen saturation. The results of these tests, along with a discussion of your symptoms, will help your doctor understand how well your lungs are functioning and whether or not your tissues are absorbing oxygen correctly. Your doctor will also consider your overall health, your lifestyle and your needs to complete your activities of daily living when writing up your oxygen prescription. If you have particular requests or needs, including the portability of your oxygen delivery device or the ability to travel, discuss these with your doctor during the oxygen prescription appointment so that they can include these needs in your prescription. A preference for an oxygen concentrator over an oxygen tank, for example, is an important issue to discuss with your health care team.

Once your doctor determines your oxygen levels, the reasons for your low oxygen, other healthcare and lifestyle considerations, they will be able to write you a prescription to begin oxygen therapy. They’ll tell you how to use it and how often you should use it. This will include the flow rate, or how much oxygen you’ll need per minute. It is essential that you follow all of your doctor’s specific instructions. If you don’t think the oxygen therapy is working for you, see them before making any changes.

Some people only need oxygen during certain activities, like exercising or sleeping. Other people need oxygen constantly. Most types of oxygen therapy come with portable oxygen tanks so you can leave home with them if necessary. Do not use drugs or alcohol while taking oxygen therapy, as they can slow your breathing. When discussing oxygen therapy with your doctor, make them aware of any other prescription medications you may be taking.[2]

Ensuring Your Oxygen Prescription Meets Your Needs

In order to get the most accurate oxygen prescription for your needs, be as honest and transparent with your health care team as possible. If you want to be able to continue to take your daily walk while using medical oxygen, tell your doctor. They will help customize your oxygen prescription to match your life. 

For many people, portability is essential to maintaining quality of life while on oxygen therapy. Portable oxygen concentrators, like those from Inogen gives patients peace of mind to leave their home. A portable oxygen concentrator can free you from carrying around heavy tanks and carefully managing your day based on minutes left in your oxygen tank.[3] If you are interested in an oxygen therapy system that is designed for the travel needs of active patients and their lifestyle, tell your doctor about your interest in Inogen’s Portable Oxygen Concentrators.

Discover more by contacting us today.

Cited Sources

  1. “Food and Drug Administration Compliance Program Guidance Manual – Compressed Medical Gases.” Food and Drug Administration, 15 Mar. 2015.
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/oxygen-therapy
  3. Oxygen devices and delivery systems


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