Medicare and other insurance companies define Durable Medical Equipment (DME) as any medical equipment designed for long term use in the home. The equipment may be rented or purchased, can withstand repeated use, has an expected life of at least 3 years, is primarily and customarily used to service a medical purpose, generally is not useful to a person in the absence of an illness or injury and is appropriate for use in the home. DME typically includes oxygen therapy, CPAP and Bilevel (BiPAP) therapy, oximetry, nebulizers, ambulation equipment, wheelchairs, bed and bathroom equipment, infant apnea monitors, phototherapy (bilirubin) lights, diabetic supplies, urological and ostomy supplies, and surgical and wound supplies.
Prosthetic and orthotic devices are generally defined as devices that replace all or part of an internal body organ, including ostomy bags/pouches and supplies that are directly related to ostomy care; and conventional eyeglasses or contact lenses furnished following cataract surgery with insertion of an intraocular lens; and leg, arm, back, and neck braces, and artificial legs, arms, and eyes.
Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics Orthotic and Supplies (DMEPOS) are covered under Medicare Part B for medically necessary services or supplies. Other insurance plans may also provide coverage. Check with your insurance provider for details related to your specific plan.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – are activities related to personal care. They include bathing or showering, dressing, toileting, grooming, eating, getting in and out of bed, and walking. DME suppliers offer a wide variety of ADLs (aids to daily living) to assist a person in their homes with these daily activities. Some of these aids include reachers, hand helpers, zipper pulls, dressing aids and dressing sticks, button hooks, sock aids, and adaptive utensils.
Ambulation Aids – are mobility devices used to assist a person with functional impairment move about in their home and in their environment. These devices include canes, crutches, walkers, manual wheelchairs, and power mobility devices (scooters and power wheelchairs).
Asthma – is a condition that causes the smaller airways in the lungs to narrow. Asthma patients can experience periods of shortness of breath and wheezing.
Bath Aids – are utilized in the home to safely assist a person with their daily hygiene and personal care. DME suppliers offer a wide variety of bathroom aids such as commodes, bath/shower chairs, wheeled shower chairs, toilet safety rails, raised toilet seats, transfer benches, grab bars, and bath tub lifts.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure CPAP – a treatment method using a device that blows mild air pressure through a mask and tubing to help keep the airways open. CPAP is one of the most effective means used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
Glucometer – a small portable device used to measure the concentration of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream.
Home Modification – are physical changes made to a person’s home in order to accommodate and enhance safe mobility within the home. Modifications may be necessary due to aging, illness or disability. Occupational Therapists can assess a person’s home to help determine what type of modifications may be suitable. There are many different kinds of modification that can be made. Grab bars and rails in bathrooms and hallways, or the widening of doorways and the addition of ramps for wheelchair accessibility are some of the options available.
Incontinence Supplies – are supplies used by a person who due to a medical condition has either lost or is unable to control bowel or bladder functions. Incontinence supplies are considered consumable medical supplies that are usually disposable in nature, cannot withstand repeated use by more than one person, are primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose, are generally not useful to a person in the absence of illness or injury. These items may be ordered or prescribed by a physician.
Infant Apnea Monitor – a portable machine used to monitor a baby’s heartbeat and breathing after discharge from the hospital.
Phototherapy (Bilirubin) Lights – Light therapy used to treat jaundice in a newborn infant. Jaundice in newborn infants, also call hyperbilirubinemia, is a condition in which the skin and whites of the baby’s eyes appear yellow because of a buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream. The light therapy helps break down the bilirubin in the baby’s bloodstream into a form the baby can excrete through urine and feces.
Nebulizer – a machine with a small compressor, tubing and a hand held nebulizer cup that turns liquid respiratory medication into a fine mist for inhalation directly into the lungs. A nebulizer is used to give patients a “breathing treatment” using a variety of respiratory medications to reduce inflammation and open the airways in the lungs.
Patient Lifts – is an assistive device sometimes referred to as a hoist or hydraulic lift that is used to transfer a patient from a bed to wheelchair, commode or other area. These devices are used in hospitals, care centers and for people receiving home health care services. There are a variety of lifts available such as a sling lift or a sit-to-stand lift. Contact your local DME supplier for additional information.
Polysomnography (Sleep Study) – is a test used to diagnose sleep disorders including Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Sleep studies are generally performed in a sleep disorders center located within a hospital. Patients are asked to come to the sleep center in the evening so the test can record nighttime sleep patterns while under controlled conditions in the sleep center.
Ostomy – is a surgical procedure to create an artificial opening in the abdomen to permit the elimination of waste (urine or feces) from the body.
Oximetry – is a noninvasive device usually attached to a finger, toe or earlobe to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Oxygen Concentrator – a mechanical device that makes oxygen which is used to provide oxygen to a patient in their home or care center.
Reactive Airway Disease – a general term used to describe conditions involving wheezing and allergic reactions.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – is a virus that can cause severe lower respiratory infections in children under age two and milder upper respiratory infections in older children and adults.
Sleep Apnea – a medical condition in which breathing stops frequently and restarts throughout hours of sleep.
Suction Pump – is a device with a compressor that assists in the removal of saliva or lung secretions using connection tubing and either a suction handle for oral suctioning or a small sterile catheter for tracheal suctioning. Respiratory suction pumps are may be covered by insurance for people who have difficulty raising and clearing their own secretions because of Cancer or surgery of the throat or mouth, dysfunction of the swallowing muscles, tracheostomy or who are unconscious.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS Unit) – a small portable device to apply electrical currents through the skin to the nerves via electrodes to help reduce chronic and acute pain.