Documentation Tip of the Week: Home Oxygen

Posted on Wed, Jul 15, 2015
Documentation Tip of the Week: Home Oxygen

Our weekly feature of documentation tips for clinicians.

Medicare is actively enforcing the following guidelines when documenting the need for home oxygen. The physician must clearly DOCUMENT the need for home oxygen in the medical record in order for it to be covered by Medicare.

The following criteria must be MET and DOCUMENTED by the PHYSICIAN to qualify for home O2:

  • PaO2 ≤ 55mmHg OR  
  • SaO2 ≤ 88% while awake, asleep, and at rest

If the above criteria are only met with exertion, 3 tests are required: 
  1. On room air, AT REST  
  2. On room air, DURING EXERTION  
  3. On oxygen, DURING EXERTION

If the test is done during sleep, it must show at least 5 minutes (not continuous) of SaO2 ≤ 88% or PaO2 ≤ 55mmHg

HOWEVER, if the patient has severe lung disease or hypoxia-related symptoms that might be expected to improve with oxygen therapy, this is acceptable for Medicare coverage. Values must be recorded within 48 hours prior to discharge from the hospital.

Dr. Timothy Brundage is a hospitalist for EmCare at St. Petersburg General Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dr. Brundage earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and molecular biology at the University of Michigan, his M.D. at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Subscribe to Dr. Brundage’s weekly documentation tips, or ask him about specific documentation issues, by emailing him at

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