Thursday, July 22, 2010

Q. How do I make sure I’m delivering oxygen the right way?

A. For starters, it helps if you can remember short, but catchy, phrases such as “If it won’t connect, don’t connect” and “Take a look before you hook.”

Second, regulations require a properly trained driver to deliver oxygen. Inattentive and uneducated employees have been the cause of many fatalities in the oxygen business. Be it the driver who does not look at a label on a tank and delivers nitrogen instead of oxygen, or the employee who is unable to distinguish between argon and oxygen containers and simply changes a fitting so that a patient can “breathe.”

Third, your vehicle must be outfitted properly. Vehicles carrying less than 1,000 pounds (tanks and gas) should have an oxygen manifest (otherwise known as shipping papers), no smoking signs, a current haz-mat book, and a North American Emergency Response Guide. The oxygen should be transported in a rack or other system that will keep the cylinder secure during normal transportation.

These requirements should be followed any time you are delivering less than 1,000 pounds of oxygen, including if you are dropping off just a few E cylinders to a patient’s house on your way home from the office. (Let me remind you that you should never put cylinders in the trunk of your car or otherwise leave them in an enclosed, small space.)

For more than 1,000 pounds you’ll need all of the above plus proper placarding and a fire extinguisher. Don’t forget to check your state requirements, too, such as CDL, fuel permits and the like.

Victoria Marquard-Schultz is general counsel and head of the compliance and regulatory department at Applied Home Healthcare. She can be reached at 440-788-4099 or

Wipfli LLP. Reach her at 414-431-9352 or