Last updated on September 28th, 2020
Do you, or you have a family member living with Pulmonary Fibrosis / any lung condition that requires home oxygen therapy in Malaysia?
I’ve been as clueless as you before on home oxygen therapy.
How do I make oxygen available at home?
- Types of home oxygen therapy
- How does home oxygen therapy work in Malaysia
- Companies / shops to go to for home oxygen therapy
I first got in touch with home oxygen therapy after my father was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (here’s how he’s doing since diagnosis). When he got so much more comfortable after being put on oxygen in the respiratory clinic, the immediate thought that popped up in my head was..
How do I bring oxygen back to home for him?
This post here will slowly explain how to do it.
Why consider home oxygen therapy?
The biggest reason is of course, the patient will likely be oxygen dependent for a long time.
Patients living with pulmonary fibrosis will likely deteriorate with time, with increasing oxygen demand.
If home oxygen therapy is not provided, the patient’s choice might be being warded as long as oxygen is needed – which causes more harm than benefit.
Think about avoiding healthcare-associated-pneumonia and other hospital acquired infection. Think about how uneasy the patient will be, being kept in the ward only because of he / she is oxygen dependent. Think of improving a patient’s quality of life.
Before I proceed to the type of home oxygen therapy, you should understand that oxygen is highly flammable. Hence, prior deciding to get home oxygen therapy in your house, you should consider the house condition (is it a house made up of wooden planks? Is electrical supply constant and stable?).
It is also important to create a simple plan in case of any fire. Is everyone aware of the location of the nearest fire extinguisher? Where should the patient go / being moved to? Is there any additional oxygen backup available? What is the contact number of the nearest fire station?
Let’s move on to how oxygen is being delivered to patients, in both hospital and home settings.
Delivering oxygen to the patient
In hospital, oxygen is delivered via a centralized system, where a ‘bulk tank’ of liquid oxygen is being evaporated and transported to different parts of the hospitals and wards. Medical staffs plug in oxygen ‘tubing’ to the ports in each ward, connect them to a humidifier, and have oxygen delivered to patients via nasal prong, face masks or high flow masks.
Types of home oxygen therapy
What do we do if we don’t have it in our homes?
We use oxygen tanks, or oxygen concentrators.
Oxygen tanks work in a straightforward manner. Liquefied oxygen is stored in a tank, so we connect an oxygen gauge with flow control valve to it. A humidifier bottle then is attached to the gauge, humidifying the oxygen delivered to the patient via cannula.
It’s a finite source of oxygen.
Over time, depends on the flow rate of oxygen required by the patient, the oxygen in the tank will be used up, and the tank becomes empty eventually.
We then go to the nearest gas supply refill shops to fill it up again.
Another option of home oxygen therapy?
Consider an oxygen concentrator
Invented in the early 1970s, oxygen concentrators are now more and more commonly used in clinics and homes. In complex terms, they uses the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology to generate oxygen, then deliver them to the patient via a cannula. (More explanation here)
To put it in simpler terms, think of a machine which takes in room air and process it.
Our room air consists of 21% oxygen, which is what we know as FIO2 (fraction of inspired oxygen). Other components of room air includes nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide. Oxygen concentrators simply takes in atmospheric air, pressurize them against an adsorption bed, extract oxygen with high purity (up to 93% and more) and have it delivered to the patient via cannula.
Here’s a pros and cons using an oxygen tank vs using an oxygen concentrator at home:
How does home oxygen therapy work in Malaysia?
Here’s my family’s story on home oxygen therapy in Malaysia.
After the diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, my father’s treating physician quickly engaged us to a company supplying oxygen concentrator to ease our care of my father at home. We are then introduced to an industrial oxygen refill shop to buy oxygen tanks and to learn about the refilling process.
Since his diagnosis in the end of 2015, my father is now using his second and third oxygen concentrator. The first one was too expensive to repair – my father is on home oxygen 24/7 and it sort of burned certain parts of the machine down due to overheating. Hence we now prepare two oxygen concentrators for him to rotate during the day and night, hoping that the oxygen concentrators are more sustainable.
We also have 3 medium sized oxygen tanks for travel purposes, and one small one for dining purposes. The medium sized oxygen tanks are mainly put in our car to be used during long journey travels, while the small one is light enough for my father to bring to dinners at restaurants.
We bought NEW and EMPTY (capitalizing them to emphasize) oxygen tanks at first, labelling them as ours, and subsequently refilling them at an industrial gas supply shop using our tanks and only our tanks to minimize contamination with impurities. (what’s worse then having a patient living with pulmonary fibrosis inhaling air with impurities, leading to more inflammation and more fibrosis?)
We travel to Kuala Lumpur for oxygen concentrator maintenance, and to Petaling Jaya for oxygen tanks refilling purposes. Since my father’s flow rate needed is about 5L/min, we typically have a half yearly concentrator maintenance, and a weekly oxygen tank refill. Rough estimation of the cost will be as follows:
- Buying a new oxygen concentrator: RM 4000 – RM 5000
- Buying a new oxygen tank (medium size): RM 600 – 700
- Buying a new oxygen tank (small size): RM 500 – 600
- Maintenance cost of the oxygen concentrator (plus minus purchasing new parts of the machine that has worn out): RM 200 – RM 800 each maintenance
- Refilling an oxygen tank (regardless of size of oxygen tank): RM 20 – RM30
- Miscellaneous costs (Purchasing new nasal cannulas, new humidifier bottles): RM 100 – RM 200 per year
Companies / shops to go to for home oxygen therapy in Malaysia
Do note that this is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned here. I have no conflict of interest to declare. The point of writing this whole post is simply to highlight how oxygen therapy works in Malaysia to serve as a guide to those who are seeking more information.
Home Oxygen Concentrators / Portable Oxygen Concentrators
(Feel free to drop any one of them an e-mail / a call to ask for quotations. I’ve contacted most of them and all are very helpful)
Note: I will really recommend purchasing medical products from the licensed dealer / supplier of the oxygen concentrators. This will facilitate the maintenance work later on GREATLY. (Imagine buying an oxygen concentrator from an online shopping platform – it will be difficult to arrange maintenance appointments later on)
1. Somnotec (M) Pte. Ltd
Contact: 03-7883 0123
Address (KL Office, do click their link to their office in Penang and Sarawak):
Merchant Square @ Tropicana, B-01-32 Block B, Jalan Tropicana Selatan 1, PJU 3, 47410 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Contact: 03-7846 3784
Address: 21, Group Floor Jalan PJU 1A/20A. Ara Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
3. COMPASS MEDICAL Pte. Ltd
Contact: 03-6275 2669
Address: Lot 5-1, Jalan 5/38D, Taman Sri Sinar, Segambut, 51200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Oxygen tanks / Refill
Note: I’ve been told that only the 4 shops listed below provides on the spot tank refill in Malaysia (Do correct me if I’m wrong!). Other shops either provide tank returns (you hand over an empty tank, they provide you with a full tank) or send your empty oxygen tanks to these few shops below for refill. Sending your tanks directly to these shops (if your transport permits you to do so) definitely save up time and money!
1. Peng Yam Enterprise Sdn. Bhd.
Contact: 03- 7803 3605 / 03-7803 3609 / 03-7803 9797
Address: 43, Jalan SS26/15, Taman Mayang Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
2. Chiheng Corporation Sdn. Bhd.
Contact: 04- 283 4686
Address: 56, Lorong Perak, Jalan Perak, 11600 Jelutong, Penang, Malaysia.
3. Asia General Agency (M) Sdn. Bhd.
Contact: 06-3372 533
Address: Lot 3-66 & 3-67, FASA 3B, Jalan TTC 24, Taman Teknologi Cheng, 75250 Malacca, Malaysia.
4. MegaMount Industrial Gases Sdn. Bhd.
Contact: 07-5998 388 (Johor Office) / 06-317 8721 (Malacca Office)
– PLO 192, Jalan Cyber 8, Kawasan Perindustrian Senai IV, 81400 Senai, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.
– No. 23, Jalan PM6, Taman Perindustrian Merdeka, 75350 Batu Berendam, Melaka, Malaysia.
To facilitate the process of finding the location of the refill stations / shops, I’ve created a custom Google Map and marked them in:
Large portion on this post is based on my own experience of home oxygen therapy with my father. It may differ / change with time! If you have any updated information to share or correct me, do drop me a mail or drop a comment below! Let’s make this little guide more helpful to everyone.
I’m particularly curious and wish to know more about having liquid oxygen tank installed at home for continuous oxygen supply when portable oxygen tanks / oxygen concentrator cannot keep up with the high oxygen demand. Do you have any information to share?