3 Considerations for Buying Used Medical Equipment to Use at Home

If your insurance provider doesn't cover the cost of some medical equipment that you need, you may wonder if it would be better to purchase used medical equipment. Used medical equipment tends to be more budget-friendly than brand-new options—as long as it's been properly refurbished by the manufacturer, it can be a good choice for your health needs.

However, there are some considerations and rules you need to understand and follow before you go and buy used medical equipment. Read on to learn the basics.

Understand the Differences Between Class I, II, and III Medical Equipment

The FDA categorizes medical equipment in either Class I, II, or III. Class I medical devices typically have the lowest regulatory requirements, like toothbrushes or bandages, because they have minimal contact with patients and have a low impact on a person's overall health.

Class II medical equipment includes things like CPAP machines, contact lenses, and syringes, and have more sustained contact with a person when in use. Class II medical equipment has to have reasonable assurances on safety and effectiveness by the manufacturer.

Only a few medical devices fall into Class III and include things like pacemakers and ventilators. Because Class III devices contain cutting-edge technology and are often used as permanent implantation devices, they wouldn't be reused or sold to the common consumer.

You could by used Class I and II devices as long as there is no cross-contamination between uses, and if the product can be reused by another person without losing efficiency.

Understand that Some Used Equipment May Still Need a Prescription from Your Doctor

The gray area for the layperson is Class II medical equipment, as these devices may be able to be purchased without a prescription and others may require one. For instance, you may want to get a used CPAP machine for your sleep apnea, but without a prescription, the manufacturer won't be able to properly register your apnea-hypopnea Index (AHI) number. You need this information from your prescribing doctor since CPAP machines are adjusted for mild, moderate, and severe apnea cases.

When in doubt, just ask your doctor about a prescription. Some manufacturers won't even let you buy the used product from their site unless you've given proof of a prescription.

Understand the Maintenance Requirements and Safety Requirements

If you get used medical equipment, you need to put a little more time into its maintenance and care since you aren't borrowing the equipment from a care provider and cannot simply change it out if something goes wrong (unless the seller provides a warranty).

Besides understanding the maintenance requirements for your device, it's imperative that you go over safety instructions since you'll be ordering the used equipment yourself instead of your doctor. For example, a used device you could get is a transcutaneous electrical nerve-stimulation (TENS) unit, which decreases sore muscles by sending low doses of electric pulses through electrodes. But if you don't read the safety instructions carefully, you put the cables or electrodes on incorrectly and give yourself a mild shock.

In short, used medical equipment can be a lifesaver for many people since the devices are refurbished and affordable. However, it's important to do your research regarding whether or not the item is in a medical class that requires a prescription and whether you can get adequate safety and maintenance instructions. Reach out to a medical supplier like Apexx Solutions Inc. for more information.