Our Process

Many potential patients have a lot of questions before they are ready to begin their oxygen treatment at Harch HBOT, and we understand. We will answer any questions you might have regarding HBOT. In addition, we will walk you through the process of receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatment at our clinic from start to finish—from the initial telephone interview, to intake assessment, your first HBOT, and your exit evaluation.

Step 1: Telephone Interview

The first step is a telephone interview with Dr. Harch to see if HBOT can help your condition. You can schedule your interview with Dr. Harch through our patient care coordinator. Prior to the telephone interview, Dr. Harch will review limited patient medical records. Typically, these include any available brain scans, discharge summaries, and medical history and summary written by the patient or their family. During the telephone interview, Dr. Harch will discuss the patient’s medical history, imaging, expectations for HBOT, potential risks, and confirm that the patient is a good candidate for HBOT at our clinic.

Step 2: Intake Assessment 

Based on the telephone interview and Dr. Harch’s acceptance of the patient, the patient and their family can then decide when they would like to come to New Orleans for an intake assessment with Dr. Harch. The intake appointment typically takes between 90 minutes and two hours. It involves a detailed history, a full physical exam including an in-depth neurological exam, and a review of laboratory testing and imaging.  Many of our patients remark that this is the most comprehensive exam they have ever received from a physician.  At the conclusion of the history and physical exam, Dr. Harch will review what patient diagnoses and symptoms that he expects HBOT to impact.

team and patient family 2
mother undergoing HBOT treatment

Step 3: Begin Hyperbaric Treatment 

Once the patient has had an intake assessment with Dr. Harch, they are ready to begin hyperbaric treatment, either the day of the intake or the following day, depending on whether or not SPECT brain imaging is to be performed before HBOT. Hyperbaric treatments come in blocks of forty treatments for most chronic injuries and conditions that are over six months old.  Diagnoses and conditions that are less than six months old are usually responsive to a proportionately lesser number of HBOTs. For those patients undergoing quantitative EEG (qEEG) dosing the qEEG will be performed with the first HBOT.  For Dr. Harch to adequately dose patients with HBOT he needs two months.  Patients can take short breaks during treatments and are free to travel on weekends but should expect to be in New Orleans for approximately two months. 

During those two months, Dr. Harch usually suspends non-critical ancillary treatment except for stem cell therapy.  He recommends continuing present medications but tries to isolate treatment to one variable, the hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  For over 30 years, Dr. Harch has tried to assure patients of a singular outcome, namely that at the end of their HBOT there will be a clear answer as to whether HBOT has helped the patient or not.  Once a patient shows a noticeable response to HBOT, Dr. Harch will carefully re-institute other ancillary treatments that can be synergistic with HBOT.

Step 4: Exit Evaluation

Towards the end of the treatment, the patient has an exit evaluation with Dr. Harch to discuss their progress with HBOT and talk about the next steps for healing.  Options include long-term HBOT in the Long-Term Care Program, stimulatory biological and non-biological therapies, or a combination of both.

Common Questions about Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

There are several questions we get regularly regarding oxygen treatments. Hopefully, we can answer most of your questions here.

What is HBOT? 

HBOT is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It is a specialized oxygen treatment that enhances your body’s natural healing process by breathing 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. More specifically, it is a treatment for wounds in any location and of any duration that consists of increased pressure and increased oxygen.  HBOT treats the underlying disease processes that are common to many conditions. As result, it effectively treats a wide variety of medical conditions, typically as part of an overall medical care plan. 

Do I Need to Live in New Orleans to Receive Treatment at Harch HBOT? 

No, you do not need to live in New Orleans in order to receive oxygen treatment at Harch HBOT. In fact, most of our patients come to us from outside the New Orleans area. Dr. Harch has treated patients from more than 50 different countries. It is not unusual for patients to travel great distances to get hyperbaric oxygen with Dr. Harch. That’s because he is the leading oxygen treatment specialist in the field. If you do choose to get treatment at Harch HBOT, you should plan on spending a few months with us in New Orleans. 

How Long Does Hyperbaric Treatment Last? 

For most chronic injuries and conditions, hyperbaric treatments come in blocks of forty treatments. For more acute conditions, a fewer number of treatments are needed. You can expect to be in New Orleans for about two months.  

Can My Condition or Injury Be Treated with Oxygen Therapy? 

HBOT can be used to treat any condition that involves injury, wounding, loss of blood supply, or inflammation. Dr. Harch has treated more than 100 different conditions with HBOT, so it is likely that oxygen treatment can help you, too. Some of the common conditions that are treated with HBOT include stroke, cerebral palsy, head injuries, autism, cognitive decline, and developmental delay.

Who is Dr. Paul Harch?

Dr. Paul Harch is the leading international expert on hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He is the former director of the University Medical Center Hyperbaric Medicine Department and LSU School of Medicine Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Fellowship.  He is currently a Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Section of Emergency Medicine at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. 

What Is It Like to Get Oxygen Therapy?

Getting HBOT is a calm peaceful experience, similar to meditation. All patients have to do is breathe and adjust their ears to pressure changes. HBOT is administered in a private setting in our state-of-the-art clear acrylic monoplace chambers. This allows our trained technicians to closely monitor the patient and also allows the patient to see outside the chamber during their treatment. Patients are under constant view and in communication with the attending technician via an intercom. There is always at least one physician and very frequently two physicians in attendance during patient treatments.  

Patients feel some pressure in their ears and warming of the chamber atmosphere as they are compressed to the treatment pressure.  While at pressure, they are at room temperature and can nap, meditate, watch television, or simply relax as they hear the white noise of the oxygen flowing through the chamber.  Once the chamber is decompressed from the treatment pressure, they experience some cooling of the chamber atmosphere.

Is HBOT Covered by My Insurance?  

HBOT is reimbursed for some diagnoses. It is typically not reimbursed for most off-label diagnoses. However, with proper documentation and effort, patients can occasionally obtain reimbursement for off-label diagnoses. Because of the unpredictability of insurance companies, Family Physicians Center does not file for insurance; payment is due at the time of service. Patients are welcome to file with their insurance company after the treatment. HBOT for most neurological conditions is not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. 

How Do I Prepare for Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment? 

There are several things you will need to know in advance to prepare for hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Only clean cotton clothing (60% or greater cotton content) is allowed in the chamber. You cannot wear any cosmetics, perfumes, hair preparations, deodorants, wigs, or jewelry in the chamber. The technician needs to know if the patient is taking any medications, including non-prescription drugs, and patients are advised not to take alcohol or drink any carbonated drinks for four hours prior to treatment. Pediatric patients should eat at least one hour before chamber treatment.  G-tube feedings should be similarly discontinued at least one hour before HBOT.  In most cases, patients should give up smoking and any other tobacco products during their treatment period, because they interfere with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. 

Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Safe? 

Dr. Harch is the leading international expert on HBOT with the best patient outcomes in hyperbaric medicine. Dr. Harch has become known for safely and successfully treating some of the most medically fragile children and adults over the past 30+ years. Dr. Harch and the Family Physicians Center have distinguished themselves since 1983 for practicing hyperbaric medicine the way it was designed to be practiced, as a medical therapy and specialty, prescribed by a physician and performed under medical supervision. 

Like any medical treatment, there are minor risks associated with HBOT, but overall, oxygen treatment is extremely safe. The most common risk in hyperbaric medicine, middle ear barotrauma (trouble clearing your ears), is a rare event at our clinic due to pioneering techniques developed over the years in treating pediatric patients. Oxygen sensitivity is also a risk, but Dr. Harch is the world’s expert in dosing HBOT for neurological conditions and keenly observes patients for this risk. We will discuss the risks with you before you sign your consent form for therapy. 

If you have additional questions about hyperbaric oxygen treatment that we did not cover on this page, please do not hesitate to contact Harch HBOT to ask any questions you may have.