Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tips for Safe Care of Medical Device Use at Home

Approximately 1,355,300 patients receive home health care services each year and across the country more than seven million people receive home care each year by both agencies and family members. The growth of homecare allows people to stay at home rather than go to alternatives. It is cheaper to receive care at home, so insurance companies see it as the better alternative.

Home care has also grown because of technology that is now available at home. Medical devices are being made smaller and more portable. It isn't unusual no for people to receive IV therapy, ultrasound, respiratory treatments, ventilator-assisted support at home.

Although more patients enjoy the benefits of receiving medical care at home, they are using medical devices that were not originally designed,tested, or approved for the home environment. This can create a potentially hazardous situation for patients.

Halls and entry spaces in homes are often not large enough to maneuver or properly use some medical equipment. Electrical wiring of some houses may be inadequate to handle the correct voltage to handle the medical equipment's voltage needs. Some medical devices do not work properly as a result of electromagnetic interference caused by other equipment in the home such as microwave ovens, video game systems and security systems.

Children and pets provide a unique challenge in the home. Children can topple equipment while playing; animals can chew through wiring and tubing of many medical devices. Many patients lack the supplies needed and may be unable to properly sanitize and sterilize medical equipment or safely dispose of infectious waste created by medical devices.

Nurses and therapists from homecare agencies are trained to evaluate the physical aspects of the home for safety. This is a part of every new evaluation and continues at each visit with patients in their homes. However, healthcare providers are rarely present when devices malfunction.

Look for tips in my next post to use and maintain your medical devices safely and effectively in your home.