- AdministratorOctober 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm
From Van Milton on the Accessible Japan website:
I am assisting someone traveling to Japan. This person needs a supplementary oxygen tank in high-elevation places. I am having a hard time finding out how she can get oxygen in Japan. It needs to be a portable oxygen tank, and may need to be refilled/exchanged during her trip – a portable oxygen concentrator or hand-can of air will not provide enough oxygen. Is there any service that a foreign visitor can use?
Hi Van Milton,
Thanks for the question. We will look around. Just some questions:
- Can you tell us the maker/model of the oxygen she currently uses so we know exactly what to look for?
- Which is the ideal situation: get a refill of her current tank while in Japan, or buy a new tank while in Japan?
Thanks for your reply!
She will take her own POC (portable oxygen concentrator) to Japan, but this provides 3L/min of oxygen, whereas a compressed air tank can provide 6L/min. The POC is usually all she needs, however, the tank is in case of emergency or if she has problems breathing at altitude.
She does not have her own tank – here in the US it is usually a rental service. The important part is that it is a portable tank (usually they have wheels and you can pull it behind like a small cart when walking).
I tried to find a similar rental option in Japan, but it seems Japan does not allow this service (seems like it needs to be prescribed by a doctor?). Now I’m wondering if she can bring or buy her own tank and have it filled at various places (hospitals? scuba shops?) as she travels.
It’s harder than I expected to arrange this – thank you for any information you can find!
So, something like this picture? (Picture)
Yes, looking around, it seems like they are only available via a doctors consent form and then a contract with the rental company.
We have a good relationship with a rental company here in Tokyo, so we can ask if a special arrangement can be made… but no promises.
Just a quick update.
Our rental contact said that in Japan oxygen tanks are considered a medical device (unlike a wheelchair being a mobility device) and therefore needs to be prescribed by a doctor here for him to be allowed to rent it out.
However, he wants to help and is investigating to see what he can do. He will get in contact again soon.
Will keep you posted.
Yes, just like the picture. Thank you and your rental contact for investigating this!
OK, well, the rental company asked around and the conclusion was that it would be illegal for them to rent to someone without a prescription from a Japanese doctor.
My suggestion would be to:
- Contact Japan Council on Independent Living Centers ( http://www.j-il.jp/english). They often organize international visits for persons with disabilities and may have experience in helping someone needing supplementary oxygen.
- Contact a large hospital to see about arranging a quick physical upon arrival and getting a prescription. (Though, I would be surprised if this worked.)
I’m very sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But you definitely should contact Japan Council on Independent Living Centers as they likely can offer advice, maybe an introduction to a doctor, (and maybe lend some oxygen?).
After you contact them, please let us know the results so we can help others in the future. Unless they offer your oxygen on the down-low, then we don’t want to know (^_^)
My contact also suggested get an appointment for a prescription but warned that they won’t be covered by the health system and need to pay in cash for the appointment, but it then would be legal.
You might want to directly contact this company as well:
Wanted to follow up with what I found:
In the end we were not able to make arrangements for supplementary oxygen prior to the trip, and our client will travel with their personal oxygen concentrator and local hospital information.
The Japan Council for Independent Living Centers said they were unable to assist, and the private Japanese companies are not able to provide tanks for medical use without a prescription. We did find one international company which said they could arrange delivery to Tokyo, though they were unable to do so during the dates we needed:
This remains a possible option for anyone else looking but it needs a couple of weeks of lead time and all the relevant trip details and information about the patient’s needs. They said they could deliver tanks to Tokyo, but the client would then need to transport them during the trip (pressurized tanks are not allowed on airplanes but seem to be okay on trains).
The strongest option remains contacting a Japanese doctor and getting a prescription for oxygen on arrival (probably best done with supporting documentation from ones personal physician), however, tanks typically seem to be refilled from the original pickup location and this left some questions about how to refill/return tanks during the trip. In the end we were unable to answer these questions before the date of travel.
Hope this is useful to others out there and thank you again, AccessibleJapan, for all of your help!
Thank you for the update. That is too bad.
Hopefully the information you found will be helpful to others in the future.
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