What is an Oxygen Flow Meter?

Oxygen flow meters monitor how much oxygen is being delivered to a user.

An oxygen flow meter is a device that measures the flow of oxygen from an oxygen delivery unit to the oxygen user. It can be connected to a part of an oxygen tank or it can be a stand-alone device that measures the flow of a gas tank or concentrator. This part is essential in any oxygen delivery device because it provides a quantitative measurement of the flow of gas moving to the user or patient through the system. It is normally supplied as standard on the flow valve of the oxygen delivery device. Advanced oxygen flow measurement systems can also indicate if a line is blocked or if an oxygen tank is unfit for use.

A flow meter concentrator is often used to provide supplemental oxygen.

Meters that measure oxygen flow appear most often on oxygen tanks and concentrators, machines that create concentrated oxygen. Most systems incorporate the oxygen flow meter as part of an oxygen regulating valve, but a flow valve can also be a separate device. An oxygen regulating valve, sometimes called a flow regulator, controls the flow of oxygen going to the user. The regulating valve usually has gauges like an oxygen flow and a pressure gauge.

In the medical field, a nurse can use an oxygen flow meter to check that the patient is getting the right amount of oxygen. A secondary meter can also function as a fail-safe oxygen delivery system. Portable meters are typically used for spot checks to ensure that the oxygen regulator flow meters are working properly. Discrepancies in the oxygen flow meter reading indicate problems with the regulator or leaks in the oxygen system. Since a faulty regulator valve can provide a patient or dependent user with an incorrect amount of oxygen, monitoring oxygen flow meter readings is an important part of using oxygen.

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Oxygen flow meters usually measure gas flow in liters per minute (Lpm). Most oxygen flow meters measure from 0 to 15 Lpm if they are measuring flow from a scuba tank or oxygen concentrator. These tools are designed to deliver oxygen to a patient who is mostly breathing on their own.

Equipment to assist a patient who is unable to breathe on their own provides higher levels of oxygen flow. A breathing assistance tool called a resuscitation valve, or demand valve, has a greater flow capacity to deliver oxygen than standard oxygen tanks or concentrator throttle valves. Used to assist emergency medical workers who employ cardiopulmonary resuscitation to resuscitate patients who are not breathing, these valves provide a more powerful flow of oxygen than a person breathing alone normally needs a source of oxygen.

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