Durable Medical Equipment

Durable medical equipment may be necessary for individuals receiving care in and out of nursing home facilities. In this article, we’ll define the term “durable medical equipment,” review Medicare’s coverage of it, and explain how it relates to nursing home abuse.

Key Takeaways

  • Durable medical equipment (DME) is equipment that helps people with the activities of daily living
  • DME includes crutches, canes, infusion pumps, wheelchairs, and more
  • Medicare Part B covers DME for home use if it meets certain requirements
  • Medicare Part A covers DME use in skilled nursing facilities for 100 days or fewer
  • Patients in nursing homes should be aware of the risk of nursing home abuse

What Is Durable Medical Equipment?

Durable medical equipment, also referred to as DME, is equipment that helps people complete their activities of daily living. Medicare Part B covers medically necessary durable medical equipment when a Medicare-enrolled doctor or other healthcare provider orders it for use in the home.

What Counts as Durable Medical Equipment? 

Durable medical equipment includes a variety of items such as:

  • Suction pumps
  • Blood sugar meters
  • Hospital beds
  • Crutches
  • Walkers
  • Wheelchairs
  • Scooters
  • Blood sugar test strips
  • Traction equipment
  • Pressure-reducing support surfaces
  • Lancet devices and lancets
  • Canes
  • Infusion pumps and supplies
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices
  • Home infusion services
  • Patient lifts
  • Commode chairs
  • Nebulizers and nebulizer medications
  • Oxygen equipment and accessories
  • Continuous passive motion devices

To be eligible for Medicare coverage, durable medical equipment must meet these requirements:

  • Be durable, as in able to withstand repeated use
  • Be used for a medical reason
  • Not be typically useful to someone who isn't sick or injured
  • Be used in the home
  • Have an expected lifetime of at least 3 years

Medicare will not cover durable medical equipment if the doctors and suppliers aren’t enrolled in Medicare. 

Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment

After meeting the Medicare Part B deductible, the insured individual will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. The exact way that Medicare pays for durable medical equipment is dependent on the type of equipment. The individual may be required to rent or buy the equipment, or they may have the option to choose which to do. 

Durable Medical Equipment and Nursing Home Abuse

Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment for home use. Residents of skilled nursing facilities and hospital inpatients have their durable medical equipment covered by Medicare Part A. However, Medicare only covers a stay in a skilled nursing facility for up to 100 days. Residents of long-term nursing facilities will have to find another way to pay for their care, such as with Medicaid. 

All residents of nursing homes, both for short-term and long-term stays, and their loved ones should be aware of the risk of nursing home abuse. Any harm that is done to a nursing home patient - both intentional and unintentional - by nursing home staff is considered nursing home abuse

If you believe that you or somebody you care about has been the victim of nursing home abuse, it is recommended that you contact the relevant authorities promptly. You may also want to speak to a nursing home abuse lawyer to learn about your options for pursuing justice through a lawsuit.

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