Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is doctor-prescribed equipment aimed at providing therapeutic benefits and improving the quality of life of disabled patients or those living with certain medical conditions or injuries. DME can either be used in the hospital or at home.
Devices that fall under the DME category include grab bars, power scooters, portable oxygen equipment, wheelchairs (both manual and electric), hospital beds, traction equipment, kidney machines, ventilators, pressure mattresses, lifts, nebulizers, and commode (toilet) chairs.
If durable medical equipment is a term entirely new to you, here are 10 key things to give you a better insight into it:
1.) Doctors prescribe DME for a wide variety of injuries and medical conditions.
There are numerous medical conditions in which DMEs are necessary. These include the following:
- Musculoskeletal conditions and injuries
- Respiratory problems
- Chronic disabilities
- Age-related disabilities
2.) DME are designed for long-term use.
As their name implies, DME can stand repeated, long-term use. They might have replaceable parts or components that are disposable, but generally, they have an expected lifespan of at least three years.
3.) Your limitation and the duration of your impairment determine if a DME is necessary.
If your physician deems that a DME is indeed necessary for your condition, the decision will now have to be as to which particular type of DME will best improve your function. For instance, if you have difficulty walking long distances, the type of DME you will require to improve your mobility will be different from that of someone who suffered a stroke.
Your physician will also consider the number of hours per day you will use your DME to determine which type is most suitable for your condition.
4.) DME for musculoskeletal conditions is classified by purpose.
Durable medical equipment recommended for patients with musculoskeletal conditions comes in three classifications:
- Rehabilitative or postoperative
Prophylactic medical equipment can help address severe injuries and prevent them from worsening. Functional equipment is used to improve mobility in the injured area. Finally, rehabilitative or postoperative equipment is used to facilitate recovery from injury or surgery.
5.) You need to regularly disinfect or sterilize your DME.
Disinfecting your DME (with alcohol) will apparently protect you from contracting any possible infection, which may cause skin breakdown.
One study tested the efficacy of alcohol, bleach, and povidone-iodine in DME disinfection. The study found alcohol to be the most effective tool for disinfection. If you need to disinfect DME at home, use one with 70 to 80% ethanol or isopropanol. In contrast, povidone-iodine was found to be the least effective among the three.
6.) Insurance may cover your DME.
Medicare and other private insurances often cover DMEs. You need to check with your provider and be familiar with specific insurance requirements to get the full benefits.
Insurance companies usually require a certification of medical necessity from the attending physicians. This applies to wheelchairs and oxygen tanks. For other items, like diabetes testing supplies, patients need to provide specific details, such as the frequency of their use.
7.) Some healthcare facilities can dispense DME products.
Some healthcare facilities in the United States offer durable medical equipment (DME) devices and products – such as braces, crutches, slings, and splints – as an appropriate ancillary service to their patients with a corresponding injury or medical condition.
Dispensing DME in this way has been seen to significantly maximize patient care and satisfaction and promote excellent treatment outcomes.
8.) DME reuse programs have greatly minimized hospital wastes.
Hospital management teams are offering DME reuse programs for low-income patients who cannot afford to buy brand-new ones. Reuse programs are instrumental in minimizing hospital wastes.
Of course, there are protocols for proper turnover and disinfection in place for reused DMEs. Some hospitals also break down unwanted DMEs into small parts, which can then be used for other purposes.
9.) Patients across all age groups can benefit from DME.
Doctors prescribe DME to patients across all age groups, notably to those who sustained a sports injury to facilitate healing, to severely disabled workers, and to the elderly who need help getting around. DMEs are also proven to help children with disabling musculoskeletal conditions, such as spinal cord dysfunction, move and function better.
10.) There are two options for acquiring a DME.
Depending on which type of DME you need, you have a choice to either rent or buy it.
Durable Medical Equipment in Alpine, TX
At Reliance Medical, Inc., our commitment to deliver the highest quality of services and products emanates from our genuine concern for the patient. As such, we provide a comprehensive range of leading-edge home care and rehabilitative supplies, enabling our clients to convalesce in the safest and most comfortable way.
For more information about our products, call us at (325) 692-7443. We have three locations from which you can get your medical equipment needs: Alpine, Presidio, and Monahans. We look forward to helping you make your life a lot more comfortable!