Angie's LIST Guide to
Medical Equipment and Supplies
Types of medical equipment
Medical equipment may also referred to as durable medical equipment, or DME, and improves your quality of life and keeps you as comfortable as possible in your home. DME includes items such as a hospital bed, over-the-bed table, egg-crate mattress, oxygen tank, wheel chair, lift chair, CPAP machine, grab bar, commode, seat lift, Hoyer lift, transfer bench, shower chair and a walker. Physicians will commonly recommend these items for patients under their care for an injury or illness. Patients can rent most DME and return it when it's no longer needed.
You physician may also prescribe or recommend insulin pumps, blood glucose testing machines, diabetic supplies, nebulizers, wound and ostomy supplies, blood pressure monitors, orthopedic support (such as splints, braces and belts), catheters, mastectomy supplies and prostheses.
In order to provide additional support and comfort, a trapeze, bed wedge, flex-a-bed, bedside table and alternating pressure mattress may be used in addition to other supplies to help you heal safely at home.
How medical equipment helps
Patients who have a functional limitation due to an illness or specific medical condition will use most medical equipment and supplies. If you struggles with using your hands or legs or have concerns about a diminished level of strength, your limited function may be improved with using specific equipment at home.
Some supplies will help you avoid bed sores and skin breakdown if you are in bed or immobile for long periods of time. Cushions, specialized clothing, medicated moisturizers and lift seats can make it easier for your skin to breathe and heal when you are confined to one position.
If you have recently had a stroke or need extra support when getting into the shower or bath, side rails attached to your walls inside and outside of the shower can help provide stability. Most equipment and supplies will make your lifestyle manageable and help you avoid costly home health care assistance or nursing home care.
Special mattresses can help you avoid a blood clot or stroke if you are at high risk. The mattress moves gently as air is pumped into its chambers and provides additional circulation to your body if you are locked into a single position for long periods of time. You doctor may order pressure stockings or compression pumps to keep blood flow moving throughout your legs.
Benefits to medical equipment
Most supplies and equipment are only temporary but the main benefit of having access to these additional items means you can heal at home rather than a hospital or nursing home. Renting DME can be a huge cost savings to you and your family and in many cases, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies will pay the entire cost of the equipment rental.
Many home medical suppliers will assist with setting up equipment and answer questions you may have about how each machine or device works. If the machine breaks or needs repairs, most DME companies will fix or replace the items free of charge.
If you discover that the DME may not be covered by your insurance company, most DME companies will set up an affordable payment plan for you.
If you think you qualify for home equipment and supplies related to your illness or condition, speak with your primary care physician for a referral.