Medical Gas Pipeline Systems and Oxygen Supply Resilience

Tim Root, Assistant Head, Medicines Assurance, NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service, Specialist Pharmacy ServicePublished
Topics: Medical gases

Using data, following guidance, and checking systems and flow rates for Medical Gas Pipelines and Oxygen Supply Resilience

Liquid oxygen supply resilience

Usage data

Usage data should be available from the liquid oxygen supplier (Air Products / BOC e.g. in the form of a dashboard). This is an essential source of information and should be retained locally/centrally and compared against demand calculations.

Guidance

In response to the increased demands for oxygen the national EPRR Oxygen cell and COVID-19 working group have developed guidance: The COVID-19 Pandemic and actions necessary to mitigate its effect on the performance of Healthcare Cryogenic Liquid Oxygen Systems.

This important document has been produced by NHS England and Improvement, with input from the UK Registered Authorising Engineer (MGPS) COVID-19 Working Group, and other subject experts. It is intended for immediate use by Healthcare Estates and Clinical professionals. It examines not only all aspects of cryogenic oxygen supply and storage, and associated gas distribution system configuration but also provides guidance on oxygen system auditing and critical operational procedures intended to mitigate the effects of exceptional oxygen demands experienced during pandemic conditions. Highlighted tasks in the document prescribe actions intended to create an awareness of system parameters, audit, design and configuration, while also detailing practical measures designed to enable deficiencies to be identified.

Systems and flow rates

Details of the site’s oxygen system (Liquid oxygen VIE, cylinder manifold system); design parameters including flow rate of the evaporators (normal and with six-hourly changeover); realistic flow rate from manifold system and realistic time interval between cylinder replenishment should all be recorded. Note – site flow rates may be assessed as being sufficient for the projected number of patients but this may not be the case for individual wards/ areas due to pipeline size and therefore plans to accommodate a cohort of patients may not be possible. This may be sensible from an infection control perspective but may present engineering challenges in terms of assuring delivery of oxygen to meet demand.
Non-invasive ultrasonic telemetry may assist in establishing daily flow rates.

Further guidance

Appropriate use of medical gases is important. View our guidance page and other resources.

Materials to support safe and appropriate supply, administration, monitoring and equipment issues