NHS Dudley Health Economy Medicines Formulary
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3.6 Oxygen

General guidance

  • Oxygen should normally only be prescribed for patients following careful evaluation in hospital by respiratory experts; it should never be prescribed on a placebo basis.
  • Long-term administration of oxygen (at least 15 hours per day) prolongs survival in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Administration for less than 15 hours per day appears to have little or no survival advantage.
  • Portable oxygen cylinders are available on the NHS since these have the same fittings as the larger oxygen cylinders. The cylinders are called a “PD oxygen cylinder”, they hold about 300 litres of oxygen and will last approximately 2 hours at a flow rate of 2 litres/minute.
  • Oxygen concentrators are more economical for patients requiring oxygen for prolonged periods of time. It is more cost-effective to provide an oxygen concentrator for those patients who require oxygen for 8 hours or more a day (or 21 cylinders per month).


Drug Traffic Light Key:

Green – On Formulary

Amber – Restricted use, see local guidelines      

Purple – Specialist use/initiation

Red – Non Formulary


Relative Costs Key (where indicated):

£££££ - high

£££ - moderate

£ - low

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