Use of Oxygen

Policy Statement

This care service believes that every service user has the right to receive oxygen therapy if prescribed for them. The care service will ensure that such oxygen therapy will be administered or supervised by suitably qualified staff and that oxygen cylinders and equipment will be kept and maintained in such a way as to be compliant with all relevant health and safety legislation and guidelines.

With respect to the prescribing, supply, storage and administration of oxygen, this care service adheres fully to the Medicines Act 1968, The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1973 and the Nursing and Midwifery Council Guidelines for the Administration of Medicines.

Aim of the Policy

This policy is intended to set out the values, principles and policies underpinning this care service’s approach to oxygen therapy.

Policy Statement

  1. Oxygen therapy should only be administered or supplied on prescription.
  2. Oxygen therapy should only be administered by suitably qualified and trained care staff.
  3. Oxygen should be administered as prescribed and full details recorded in each service user’s notes.
  4. In each case advice and support relating to oxygen administration can be obtained either from the service user’s GP or the specialist community team who prescribed the oxygen.
  5. Service users may be able to self-administer oxygen only after an appropriate assessment has been carried out and a suitable entry placed in the service user’s notes — suitably trained, designated care staff will be provided to support self-administering service users.
  6. The care service will work with the relevant Home Oxygen Therapy Service to ensure that suitable oxygen supplies are provided and are kept in serviceable condition.
  7. Records will be kept of all oxygen supplies received, administered and leaving the care service to ensure that there is no mishandling.
  8. All staff handling oxygen should ensure that all health and safety requirements are complied with at all times; oxygen in the custody of the care service will be handled according to the requirements of the Medicines Act 1968, guidelines from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the requirements of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and all nursing staff will abide by the NMC Standards for the administration of medicines.

Maintenance of oxygen cylinders and equipment is the responsibility of the Home Oxygen Service. In this care service the relevant Home Oxygen Service provider is BOAC.

Safety Procedures

Oxygen presents a considerable risk of explosion or fire and should therefore be handled with great care and according to guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive. When using or storing oxygen cylinders care staff should:

  • complete a risk assessment for each service user to minimise the risks associated with the storage and use of oxygen
  • ensure that when not in use oxygen cylinders are turned off and kept in a dry, secure, well-ventilated area well away from sources of combustion
  • display warning notices
  • inform emergency service personnel about the oxygen cylinder storage areas
  • never allow untrained persons to operate or tamper with oxygen cylinders and equipment
  • never let a concentration of oxygen build up in a confined area
  • never use oxygen near any naked flame or fire or smoke in the vicinity of oxygen cylinders or equipment
  • always handle cylinders with care and never to knock or allow cylinders to fall over.

In the event of accidental release of oxygen from a cylinder staff should:

  • evacuate the area
  • ensure adequate air ventilation
  • eliminate ignition sources
  • post warning notices, including No Smoking
  • try to stop release and notify manufacturer or supplier as soon as possible.

Medical Gas Data Sheets should be obtained from the relevant Home Oxygen Service provider. These should be kept in a safe place and used to provide information for risk assessments.


All new staff should be encouraged to read the policy on oxygen as part of their induction process and to be trained to remember that oxygen is potentially dangerous and will strongly support combustion. Existing staff will be offered training covering basic information about health and safety and oxygen. Care staff will be offered appropriate skills training or refresher courses in use of oxygen therapy as identified in appraisal or learning plans and as dictated by their need for continuous professional development.


Signed: ________________________________
Date: ________________________________
Policy review date: ________________________________