Associations, providers lobby DOT to revamp travel O2 regs

Friday, May 31, 2002

WASHINGTON - There's a move afoot to change federal regulations governing travel oxygen, with the goal of making it easier for patients to fly and HMEs to do their job.

Under current Department of Transportation regulations, respiratory patients can't take their own systems on planes. What's worse, some airlines don't provide O2, and those that do, too often do so inadequately, without, for example, any understanding of liter flows. Additionally, since airlines don't provide oxygen outside the plane, providers often face the logistic challenge of escorting a patient to and from the plane, said Phil Porte, executive director of the National Home Oxygen Patients Association.

Porte, along with officials from Apria, the National Council of Disabilities, the Air Transport Association,Respironics, AirSep and possibly Puritan Bennett, were scheduled to meet May 29 with the DOT to discuss revamping regulations restricting airline oxygen.

"I'd like to see the airlines out of the oxygen business and let (the HME industry) do it," said Bob Fary, Apria's corporate director of respiratory therapy. "Come up with a system that's acceptable, and let the patients bring it on board. Right now, it is so difficult for them to travel, it's crazy. They are treated like second-class citizens."

In working toward a remedy, industry officials realize the Sept. 11 terrorist attack created heightened security concerns. Porte acknowledged that additional screening may be necessary for oxygen patients who wish to fly. HME