DME is a term you are likely to encounter when looking for medical equipment, so what does it mean?
The term Durable Medical Equipment (DME) can be used to describe a wide array of items, assistive devices, used by individuals with a long-term or short-term disability or medical condition. This brief article does not address the definitions or categories established by insurance providers and government bodies to determine what constitutes a durable medical equipment device for coverage issues and regulations but instead provides a practical, common-sense answer to the question, "What is durable medical equipment (DME), also often referred to as home medical equipment (HME)?"
The term Durable Medical Equipment is generally used to differentiate items used by individuals at home and in the community from the broader term 'medical equipment' which would also include devices only found in facilities like hospitals and doctor's offices, like X-ray, MRI, exam tables and other equipment not found in a person's home. So Home Medical Equipment or Durable Medical Equipment indicates items used by individuals outside of facilities due to a 'medical' condition. This includes wheelchairs, both manual and electric, shower chairs, transfer bath benches, walkers, in-home hospital beds, CPAP and BiPAP devices among many other items.
You may wonder, "why the term durable, doesn't home medical equipment make more sense?" In many cases, it does, however, again for the purpose of differentiating, in this case between those items that are used over long periods of time versus disposable medical equipment or supplies, durable indicates the nature of the assistive device in that it has a durable, long-lasting quality. While a wheelchair, for example, may be used for years by the same individual or even by multiple individuals, briefs, diabetic test strips, bed pads, and other single-use items are, obviously, not to be re-used in the same manner or for the same duration. For questions about how your insurance defines or categorizes durable medical equipment, please contact your insurance provider.
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