When is it appropriate to use an oxygen cylinder?
We want to use them during patient transport, therapy, power outage, and when an oxygen concentrator is not available.
Another way to improve efficiency is to make sure you know how to interpret what the pull tags indicate. Most cylinders will have a usage pull tag which indicates when it is full, partially full, and empty. Utilizing those pull tags will help you know which cylinders have not been used and which cylinders are empty.
A majority of the time cylinders are returned partially and/or full of oxygen. Knowing how to attach, read, and use a regulator is important. One way to ensure your staff understands how long cylinders should last on different liter flows is to create a Cylinder Duration Chart.
It is a good idea to contact your provider about getting a Cylinder Duration Chart that you can post for employees to see. This will help your staff understand how long one cylinder should last on different liter flows.
You can also improve efficiency by using the same cylinder on multiple patients, as long as each patient is using their own oxygen delivery device (nasal cannula, face mask, trach collar, etc.).
A conserving device is helpful to use when you have a very mobile patient. This device only gives a puff of oxygen when the patient inhales, thus increasing the cylinder lifetime. However, some patients may not be able to tolerate a conserving device and must use a standard regulator with continuous flow.
Make sure that you are stressing to your staff that once the patient is back in their room they need to switch over to an oxygen concentrator. Also, ensure the regulator is turned to the zero position. There is a possibility that oxygen can escape from the regulator even if it is not in the zero position. Be sure to close the cylinder by using your cylinder key.
Oxygen Concentrators vs. Cylinders
Despite the benefits of using a cylinder, using a concentrator is still a more efficient method. It can be used with multiple patients as long as it is cleaned and sanitized effectively between patients.
To increase the life of the concentrator, make sure the side foam filters are cleaned weekly and as needed. The internal filter must also be changed every six months, depending on patient usage. To prolong the life of your concentrator a yearly PM should be included. Make sure the correct soft good supplies are used to alleviate any errors.
For example, using a high flow cannula with a low flow humidifier bottle will cause the bottle to swell up and affect the actual flow of the oxygen the patient is receiving. All supplies need to be changed weekly as well as tagged with the date of change.
While concentrators are a very efficient means of oxygen for patients, the cylinder’s ability to function without needing to be connected to power makes it a great choice when a patient is in transport, if a power outage has occurred, or if a concentrator is not available.