As health care providers around the world work to assist patients affected by the respiratory illness Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the demand for medical gas containers will rise due to the increased need for these containers at both health care facilities and for patients requiring them for home use. It is important that any measures taken to address this increased demand and avoid any potential shortage on a temporary basis are done so in a manner that does not cause a safety hazard to the filler or unacceptable risk to the patients who are the ultimate consumer.
This Safety Alert will address interim measures that may be considered for use during this pandemic crisis, if there is a need to convert high pressure cylinders or large portable cryogenic containers from industrial service to medical service to alleviate a current or potential shortage. Typically, high pressure cylinders with between 100 to 300 cubic feet capacity and cryogenic containers between 160 and 230 liquid liters capacity are those generally converted. Small medical high pressure cylinders, such as “E” size, and small liquid oxygen containers used in patient homes, are already dedicated to medical service. This Safety Alert will also address interim cylinder filling measures that may be considered during this crisis to potentially allow more cylinders to be filled in a given period of time. Prior to considering the interim actions noted below, a firm should make every effort to meet the normal requirements of CGA standards through traditional resource planning and scheduling to provide for additional cylinder maintenance and cylinder filling capacity.