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In addition to the requirement of having to visit a clinic or hospital regularly, people with long-term illnesses or elderly and hospitalized people often need access to home medical equipment (HME), which is also known as durable medical equipment (DME). In this article, we cover home medical equipment people use, as well as some durable medical equipment.

Sources of Home Medical Equipment People Use

There are three main sources from which DME can be obtained:

  • Registered, large suppliers
  • Internet suppliers
  • Used home medical equipment suppliers

The most widely-used source of home medical equipment is from registered, large suppliers like Walgreens, Lincare, and Apria. The advantage of purchasing HME from such suppliers is that they will deliver and set up the equipment, ensure that the home environment is conducive for use of the equipment, train the users, and inform the users of their rights and responsibilities while using the equipment. Home medical equipment from internet suppliers is significantly cheaper, but these suppliers will not do anything more than ensure that the equipment is delivered to the customer in a satisfactory condition.

Another good option is used medical equipment, because you will be able to get authentic, certified home medical equipment at really reduced rates, (sometimes even free), and if you can sell or donate any surplus durable medical equipment which you might have in your possession.

An important point to note about HME is that for insurance reimbursement purposes, it should be used in recommendation of a doctor’s prescription and should be manufactured in line with rules outlined by the National Supplier Clearinghouse. Some equipment also needs FDA approval.

Here is a list of some commonly-used home medical equipment:

Wheelchairs

There are different types of wheelchairs for various purposes, so you need to get the appropriate wheelchair for the patient as prescribed by the doctor. The most common type is a standard wheelchair, which have large rear wheels of 24 inches in diameter. Transport wheelchairs have smaller rear wheels (8 inches), and are foldable. The third category is hybrid wheelchairs, which can be alternated between the standard and transport mode. Wheelchairs can have added features, such as seat belts, cup holders, storage pouches and so on.

Commode Chairs

This category of durable medical equipment is also quite commonly used and is has Medicare Part B coverage if prescribed by a doctor for home use. There are different types of commodes available, hence, you need to ensure that you get a suitable one by consulting your doctor before purchasing it. A few of the different varieties are listed here:

  • Bedside commode
  • Folding commode
  • Drop arm commode
  • Bariatric commode
  • Commode with microban
  • Rehab shower commode
  • Pediatric commode
  • Self-propelled commode

Home Oxygen Equipment

While there are strict rules outlined by the Office of the Inspector General governing the supply and use of Medicare home oxygen equipment, it should be kept in mind that there are different types of equipment, so as home medical equipment, the procurement and setting up of such equipment needs to be closely supervised by a doctor. The choice of oxygen equipment depends on the type of medical condition of the patient.

There are three types of oxygen equipment:

  • Concentrator
  • Compressed oxygen gas
  • Liquid oxygen

The type that needs to be used and its accessories will be described by your doctor, and you should never attempt to make an independent decision on this.

Nebulizers

A nebulizer is used for treatment of respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other respiratory diseases. Nebulizers are charged with medical solutions and suspensions. These are then converted into tiny aerosol droplets by using oxygen, compressed air or ultrasonic energy. The mixture is then inhaled though a respirator or inhaler. Home Nebulizers are of two types, home (tabletop) and portable models. Home nebulizers need to be plugged into an electrical outlet whereas portable ones are battery-operated. Whatever the type, a nebulizer requires a doctor’s prescription and doctor’s guidance on how to use it.

Hospital Beds

There are several scenarios where a regular bed is not practical, considering the condition of the patient. There are different types of hospital beds available, from the standard, multipurpose beds, to ones with special features, which might be specifically prescribed by a physician. Hospital beds are available on the open market, but since they are rather expensive, you can get hospital beds on rent, as well. Hospital beds are also covered under Medicare, so care should be taken to choose only Medicare-compatible products.

Walkers

A walker can help a patient move around without taking assistance of others. There is a vast range of walkers of different types available on the market, and it is important to procure the type of walker prescribed by the doctor. Here are a few of the most common types:

  • Standard Walker: It has four rubber-tipped legs, is light and needs to be lifted periodically during walking.
  • Rollator Walker: It is like a standard walker, but has wheels or castors on the legs They are heavier than standard walkers.
  • Two-wheeled Walker: This has four legs as well, but wheels are fitted on the front wheels only.

Since walkers are also covered under health insurance, it is important to be aware of the rules for getting walkers included in insurance

Blood Sugar Monitors

Under home medical equipment, blood sugar monitors are also covered by health insurance, so you need to ensure that you procure equipment approved by Medicare. There is a set of FDA guidelines for home use of blood sugar devices, so you would do well to study these guidelines to be able to perform tests accurately. There are at least 25 different types of blood sugar monitors, so it is important to buy one that is prescribed by your doctor.

Home Infusion Therapy

Here is another widely-used medical process carried out at home, as an alternative to having to get it done at a hospital or clinic. Home infusion therapy is defined as “The IV administration of therapeutics–analgesics, antibiotics, chemotherapy, parenteral nutrition–outside of a formal healthcare environment.” Under this category, the equipment used includes enteral pumps, infusion pumps, IV poles, PCA pumps and syringe pumps. Since home infusion therapy is also covered under Medicare, care should be taken, to use only FDA approved equipment, and moreover, it should be used in line with government regulations and guidelines which have been outlined by the Congress. It is imperative to use home infusion equipment as prescribed by and under strict supervision of a doctor.

These are a few of the various types of home medical equipment people use, and with the proper use of this equipment, it is possible to save money and avoid the inconvenience otherwise caused by prolonged stays at a hospital and nursing home.

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