Oxygen for Palliative Patients

Respiratory patients:

Palliative patients who are hypoxaemic and are likely to remain on oxygen for a prolonged period of time will need to be referred to RESPS for an oxygen assessment.
Consider completing a Part A HOOF if you feel the oxygen needs to be installed more urgently (follow above steps: SpO2 < 85%, order a concentrator set at 2litres/minute via nasal cannulae).

Palliative patients who are end of life (final days) - consider if saturations <90-92% or for comfort measures; please complete the part A HOOF; hospice input may also be appropriate.

RESPS to be informed, with a copy of the part A HOOF.

Non-respiratory patients:

Oxygen is often not appropriate and may increase distress.
Fans, breathing relaxation techniques, and low dose opioids may be of more benefit than oxygen.
Hospices may be able to provide advice:

  • St Wilfrid’s Hospice Triage Service on 01323 434222
  • St Michael’s Hospice at Home team on 01424 445177

Recommended flow rates:

  • nasal cannulae - 2 litres/min (higher rates irritate)
  • 24% mask requires 2 litres/min
  • 28% mask requires 4 litres/min
  • 35% mask requires 8 litres/min

Higher % only appropriate for hospital inpatients i.e. 60% at 15 litres/min.


  • First Line Drugs
  • Second Line Drugs
  • Specialist Initiated Drugs with Shared Care Guidelines
  • Specialist Only Drugs
  • Mixed Status