What Does “Durable Medical Equipment” Mean?
When you start looking into the wide range of various medical technologies and equipment offered today, it can be easy to get caught up in the specific ways they can work and forget that they all serve a similar overarching purpose.
A piece of equipment that is produced for the express purpose of aiding medical care endeavors, whether in the hospital or at home, and that is used to treat patients and to assist with the comfort and quality of life of any individual who may suffer from illnesses or have varying levels of disability, can be considered a form of durable medical equipment.
Any piece of medical equipment, ranging from assistance based technology such as crutches, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters, to more intensive equipment, like oxygen machines and heart monitors, are included under the blanket term of durable medical equipment.
The label of durable medical equipment indicates that the products themselves are manufactured to meet certain medical and safety expectations. A piece of durable medical technology, as per the name, is made to stand up to repeated use without breaking down or failing, as, in the case of more sensitive equipment such as at-home dialysis machines, failure could be life threatening. Durable medical equipment is specially manufactured to fulfil a specific assistive function, and as such can range from the simplest of medical tools, such as a finger brace, to complicated life support machines that are found in almost every major hospital.
Durable medical equipment focuses on solving the needs of individuals who are faced with illness, injury, or who may require additional assistance going about their day to day life, such as is the case of durable medical equipment geared towards mobility and balance assistance. When it comes to investing in durable medical equipment, you are guaranteed to get the best quality and security in your device, and can use the assistive products knowing that they are made to meet certain medical assistance requirements. For some individuals, having access to these forms of equipment is the difference between independence and potential hazards, as things like bath chairs, knee scooters, and walking canes can be used to prevent potential injuries during daily activities.
Within the classification of durable medical equipment, most forms of assistive technology can be broken down by two distinctions.These categories depend on whether or not the equipment offered is made to be used by individuals with temporary illnesses and injuries, such as in the case of a brace or a splint, or if it is made for use by patients with longstanding disabilities, such as disabilities that can cause severely restricted movement and cognitive functions.The secondary category is if the durable medical equipment is meant for use in a professional setting, such as in hospitals or long term care facilities, or if it is specifically geared towards use in private spaces, such as in homes where individuals with mobility concerns live, either alone or with a care assistant. Here are some examples of durable medical equipment and technology, and how they fit into these distinctions.
Durable Medical Equipment for Injuries, Illnesses, and Disabilities
Durable medical equipment that is geared towards treating injuries, illness, and disabilities vary from object to object depending on the intended purpose. While there is some level of overlap between these categories, such as is the case when dealing with wheelchairs and other forms of mobility-based assistance technologies, it can be said that for most illness and injury-based technologies the duration of use is often times temporary. While there is some play within this generality, most forms of technology aimed at assisting individuals with disabilities of any kind is meant for more long term use, and as such tends to help replace or simplify an everyday task. On the other hand, injury and illness based durable medical equipment is most often used to monitor or support a condition or area, such as is the case with things like hand braces, knee pillows, and insulin pumps.
For cases of prolonged illness or injury, such as for treatments that require extended hospital visits, durable medical equipment can be used to provide comfort and monitor existing conditions. Forms of technology that fit this example are medical beds outfitted with raising and lowering capabilities, over bed tables that make extended bed rest bearable, any form of monitor that can be used to actively track the status of a patient or administer medications and fluids over time, and simple forms of medical technology, such as back and neck braces or even metal hip replacements. These forms of durable medical equipment have all passed the required checks to ensure that they are safe for patient use, and provide some form of comfort or treatment benefit to the patient, which in turn allows them to assist with the quickest, smoothest healing process possible in the long run.
Other forms of durable medical equipment that can be used for both short term injuries and illnesses and long term conditions include mobility assistance devices such as crutches, canes, and wheelchairs, which are made to assist a patient move from one location to another without putting additional strain on themselves or incurring possible risks of falling while attempting the move itself. These are covered under the terminology of durable medical technology, as they are used to increase the comfort, independence, and quality of life for all patients regardless of if their needs are permanent or temporary. These forms of assistive technology can help decrease the length of the healing time for individuals with injuries such as ACL or hip related surgeries, as they can help to take some of the pressure off of the healing joints and tendons, allowing them to heal properly.
Durable medical equipment that is geared towards long term treatment of individuals with more intensive impairments can range from larger installation features to temporary assistance that can be easily moved from one location to another. The more serious installments, such as a chair lift for help getting up stairs or moving from one floor to another or a standing bath to aid individuals who cannot easily lower and raise themselves out of their bathtub without risk of injury, can be used to permanently outfit a living location for use by an individual with mobility concerns. More temporary forms of durable medical equipment that can be used on an as needed basis, such as transport chairs, shower chairs, and wall bars to assist with bathroom-related tasks, or more intensive forms of care such as bath lifts that can be placed within a bath to allow the user to raise and lower themselves from the bath without having to bend down. These forms of equipment can help increase the mobility and freedom of an individual who suffers from mobility related concerns, and as such fall under the label of durable medical equipment.
Durable Medical Equipment for Home, Hospital, and Care Facility Use
Durable medical equipment that is geared towards professional settings is much different than medical equipment that can be used in home and care facility settings. While most care facilities do supply a team of medically trained staff, they do not always have to operate under the same level of pressures and adaptability as most hospitals do, meaning that the equipment that they employ tends to differ from the equipment found in most hospitals. Similarly, while some patients require professional medical-grade equipment within their homes, for the most part home-based forms of durable medical equipment are not the same as those found in a hospital setting. As such, the major distinction between kinds of durable medical equipment, especially durable medical technology, can be made depending on if the medical equipment is made to be used in a professional setting or in a more private, home setting.
Durable medical equipment for the home can range from anywhere from a small medical pump used to administer insulin for individuals who suffer from diabetes, to a large kidney dialysis replacement machine that is used on a nightly basis by an individual to supplement their kidneys in the case of partial to total kidney failure. These forms of medical equipment are made to be at the same level of quality as those used in a hospital setting, but are geared towards helping individuals be the caretakers of their own medical concerns, and as such are oftentimes made with user-friendliness in mind. While some of the more intensive forms of at-home durable medical equipment do require some level of input from a medical professional, they are made to be used in a home setting by one or more individual for self-treatment purposes.
Durable medical equipment for hospitals covers a wide range of equipment types, from monitors to automated medication machines and assistive lifts used to move patients from one bed to another. Due to the wide range of medical equipment used at most hospitals, it is safe to assume that every form of technology used to assist with the treatment and comfort of the patient, from leg and arm braces to more complicated forms of machinery such as MRI machines are all forms of durable medical equipment.
Here is a YouTube video that discusses durable medical equipment and Medicaid:
Overall, no matter what location or specific treatment plan is intended for use with any form of durable medical equipment, the comfort and healing provided by these forms of assistive technology can help improve the quality of life for any individual, no matter what their specific needs.