Identifying medical gas cylinders | Industrial, Medical And Specialty Gases | Coregas Australia

Identifying medical gas cylinders

Our medical cylinders and valves are uniquely designed for each gas to reduce the possibility of using the wrong gas.

Using the correct gas in clinical situations is understandably crucial in ensuring safe and appropriate management of patients. Medical gas cylinders and their valves therefore have some unique and useful features to assist in distinguishing them from industrial or specialty products and from each other.

The three features shown below can identify each medical gas on their own, but it is good practice to check all three correspond with the gas you require prior to using the gas cylinder. That way you can be confident of correctly identifying your medical gas every time.

Cylinder body colour

Distinguishing medical gas cylinders from other types of gas cylinder begins some distance away because the body of medical gas cylinders is always white, in accordance with Australian Standard AS 4484. For industrial and specialty gases, the body is coloured according to the gas it contains. As demonstrated by the image below, only the upper parts of medical gas cylinders - known as the shoulder and dome - are coloured according to the gas they contain.

For pure gases such as Medical Oxygen, Medical Nitrous Oxide and Medical Carbon Dioxide, the whole dome and shoulder area have a single colour that represents the gas in the cylinder, eg all white for Medical Oxygen, all ultramarine blue for Medical Nitrous Oxide or all green grey for Medical Carbon Dioxide. The colour that represents each gas is defined in Australian Standard AS 4484.

For gas mixtures such as Medical Equanox and Medical Carbanox, each of which is composed of two gases in different proportions, the shoulder and dome are divided into quarters alternately coloured in the colours that represent the gases in the mixture. For instance, Medical Equanox is a mixture of Medical Nitrous Oxide and Medical Oxygen, so the quarters are alternately coloured white for Medical Oxygen and ultramarine blue for Medical Nitrous Oxide.

Note that while Medical Air does contain a third gas - argon - in addition to oxygen and nitrogen, its proportions are so low at 0.6% or below that only the two main gases are represented on the shoulder - pewter for nitrogen and white for oxygen.

Valve style

With the exception of the special product Coregas Medical Oxygen with Integrated Valve Regulator (often abbreviated to "Coregas IVR"), medical gas cylinders use a special type of valve connection called pin index connections, which comply with Australian Standard AS 2473.3.

Pin index connections are specially designed to prevent the cross-connection of gases and associated hazards, such that it should be physically impossible to connect the wrong medical gas. Each valve has one or two holes on the body below the outlet. These holes accept pins located on the connecting equipment. The hole pattern is unique to each medical gas. So a gas cylinder filled with Medical Carbanox should have a Medical Carbanox pin index valve, a Medical Air cylinder should have a Medical Air valve, and so on.

Pin index connections in good condition generally connect easily. If you experience any difficulties connecting with them, first check that you are trying to connect the correct gas by checking that the cylinder body colour, the valve hold pattern and the cylinder label all correspond with the gas you require. If this check shows you are connecting the correct gas and connection is still difficult, try using a different cylinder.

Cylinder label

The cylinder label displays lots of information about the contents of the cylinder, including the name of the gas or main components of the gas mixture inside, volume of gas, safety warnings and contact details for Coregas.

Important: Check the cylinder label before using the gas inside. Always ensure the gas or gas mixture on the label corresponds with the gas indicated by the cylinder body colour and the valve. If any of these three is different than the others, do not use the cylinder but return it to Coregas to deal with.


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