Resident Oxygen Use in a California Assisted Living Facility

There are certain types of medical conditions that preclude a person from residing in an assisted living facility in California. The use of oxygen is not such a medical condition, provided that certain protocols, practices, rules, and regulations are in place. By way of this article, we provide a general overview of resident oxygen use in an assisted living facility.

Resident Oxygen Use Requirements

In order to be retained or admitted to a California assisted living facility when a person begins to use or has been using oxygen, a set of elements must be in place:

  • Resident must be mentally and physically capable of operating the oxygen equipment
  • Resident must be able to determine his or her need for oxygen
  • Resident must be able to administer oxygen
  • If intermittent oxygen administration is performed by an appropriately skilled professional

Responsibilities of an Assisted Living Facility for Resident Oxygen Use

An assisted living facility has certain duties and obligations if it has a resident who uses oxygen. An assisted living facility is required to:

  • Monitor a resident’s ongoing ability to operate the equipment in accordance with the physician’s orders
  • Ensure that oxygen administration is provided by an appropriately skilled professional should the resident require assistance
  • Ensure that the use of oxygen equipment meets the following requirements:
    • A report shall be made in writing to the local fire jurisdiction that oxygen is in use at the facility
    • “No Smoking-Oxygen in Use” signs shall be posted in the appropriate areas
    • Smoking shall be prohibited where oxygen is in use
    • All electrical equipment shall be checked for defects which may cause sparks
    • Oxygen tanks that are not portable shall be secured in a stand or to the wall
    • Plastic tubing from the nasal canula or mask to the oxygen source shall be long enough to allow the resident movement within his/her room but does not constitute a hazard to the resident or others
    • Oxygen from a portable source shall be used by residents when they are outside of their rooms
    • Equipment shall be operable
    • Equipment shall be removed from the facility when no longer in use by the resident
  • Determine that room size can accommodate equipment in accordance with California statutes and regulations
  • Ensure that facility staff have knowledge of, and ability in the operation of the oxygen equipment

Medical Hazards of Oxygen Use

The use of oxygen can be lifesaving and life-prolonging for a resident of an assisted living community. With that said, in addition to understanding the rules and regs associated with oxygen use by a resident of an assisted living community, it is also necessary to be aware of some medical risks that can arise when an individual is oxygen reliant. Three of the most relevant types of medical dangers are:

  • Respiratory arrest in patients who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD as well as in patients with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and black lung. This article is not intended to provide medical advice. We do note that the residents with these conditions should not be given high concentration to prevent respiratory depression or arrest. High concentration is defined as 28 percent and above.
  • Air sac collapse, also known as atelectasis, occurs when there is very high concentration of oxygen in the lungs. The air sacs expand in response to low oxygen concentration. If very high concentration of oxygen is given for a very long period of time, the air sacs may collapse. In severe cases of air sac collapse, the entire section of the lungs may follow suit and likewise collapse. This can create a life-threatening condition. 
  • Oxygen toxicityrefers to the destruction of lung tissues due to high oxygen concentration of oxygen over the course of a very long period of time. 

Non-Medical Hazards of Oxygen Use

In closing, it is also important to make note of three primary types of nonmedical hazards that can be associated with the use of oxygen in an assisted living community. Bear in mind that nonmedical hazards can impact not only a resident using oxygen but other residents in a community as well as staff. These three primary types of nonmedical hazards are:

  • Cylinder-related accidents occur if the tank is punctured or the valve breaks. The oxygen is stored under very high pressure. As a result, any disruption in the integrity of the tank can possibly result in an explosion.
  • Fire can develop more rapidly in the presence of oxygen. What many people do not recognize is that oxygen being provided to a resident in this manner can saturate clothing, sheets, and towels greatly increasing the risk of fire. 
  • Explosion can occur due to cylinder-related accidents or severe reaction of oxygen with other substances, particularly oil. This is the reason why oil and petroleum-based products are never advised for lubricating an oxygen delivery system or gauge.