Thursday, October 18, 2007

Managing Your Medical Devices At Home: Practical Advice

As noted in yesterday's blog, it's important to know how your medical device works. Here a some practical tips:

1. Read the material that came with your device. Follow the operating instructions precisely for proper operation of the device. Keep the operating instructions close by to the device to trouble shoot if problems with the operation arise. Pay attention to alarms and error messages. Know what they mean.

2. Ask the supplier questions about your device and take notes.Call the supplier for help if you don't understand how the device works. For larger equipment,the company will come out to your home to show you how to properly operate the device.

3. Ask what you need to operate your device. Do you need electricity, running water, telephone, or computer connections to operate your device? What should you do in the event of a power failure? Do you need to invest in a generator to use as back up? Always have a back-up plan and back-up supplies.

4. Check to see that your home is suited for your device. For example, will there be enough clearance in the hallway for a power wheelchair to get through? Do the stairs, doorways, bathrooms or house wiring present any problems?

5. Report to your supplier any problems you have with the operation of the device.

6. Take good, tender loving care of your device and follow the instructions for cleaning, replacing batteris and filters, and protecting the device from excessive heat, cold, spills from food or fluids. Keep extra batteries for your device and know how to replace them.

7. Can you safely take the device from home to school, work, church and vacations? Check ahead of time to see if these places are suited fot your device.

8. Dispose of your medical device according to the manufacturer's instructions.

9. Dispose of any fluid wastes according to the instructions for everyone's health and safety.

10. Make sure you know what to do if your device fails. Have emergency phone numbers for the supplier, homecare agency, doctor, and manufacturer. Be sure that you have the after hour phone numbers as well.

11. Educate your family and caregivers about your device. Include them in any demonstrations that the equipment provider gives you.If the device is given while in the hospital or nursing facility, be sure caregivers who will be assisting at home are included in the training. Ask them to do a hands-on demonstration to show they can safely and effectively use the device.

12. Keep children and pets away from the device. Don't let children play with dials, settings, on/off switches, tubings, machine vents, or electrical cords. Don't allow pets to chew or play with electrical cords or tubes.

13. Check with your supplier to see if you can turn off the device when it is not in use.

14. Contact your doctor and home healthcare team often to review your health condition. Check to see if there are any changes that my affect the way you or your caregiver use the device. Are there changes in vision, hearing or ability to move? Have you had an illness, new medicines, loss of feeling?

15. Report any serious injuries, deaths, or close calls due to equipment failure. Report these events to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. The FDA will take action when needed to protect the public's health. Report these events also to the supplier.