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Keeping Home Medical Devices Safe

Although using a medical device in your home may seem overwhelming at first, it’s crucial that you know how the device works and when the device experiences any problems. The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health regulates medical devices to provide reasonable assurance of their safety and effectiveness. Here, from their experts, is a checklist of what you should know about keeping your device safe..

Read your patient education information. Ask your doctor or supplier questions about your device and take notes.

Ask what you need to operate your device. Do you need electricity, running water, telephone, or computer connections to operate your device?

Check to see that your home is suited for your device. Do the stairs, doorways, bathrooms, house wiring, present any problems?

Keep instructions for use close to your device. Follow instructions as given.

Pay attention to alarms and error messages. Be familiar with what the alarms and error messages mean.

Call the supplier for help if you don’t understand how your device works. Report to your doctor or device supplier any new problems you have with the device

Take care of your device and operate it according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Read your instructions for taking care of your device and follow them for cleaning; replacing batteries and filters;  protecting your device (for example, by keeping food and drink away from it).

Can you safely take your device from home to school, work, church, and vacation spots? Check ahead to see if these other places are suited for your device.

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

Always have a back-up plan and supplies.

Make sure you know what to do if your device fails.

Have emergency phone numbers for suppliers, homecare agency, doctor, and manufacturer.  Be sure that you have the after-hour phone numbers.

If appropriate, keep extra batteries for your device and know how to replace them.

Educate your family and caregivers about your devices. Include them in hospital planning meetings or any device demonstrations and ask them to do a hands-on demonstration to show they can effectively use the device.

Keep children and pets away from your medical 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.

Check with your supplier to see if you can turn off your device when not using it.

Contact your doctor and home healthcare team often to review your health condition.

Check to see if there are new conditions that may change the way you or your caregiver use the device.

Let your doctor know about any new conditions: Are there changes in vision, hearing, ability to move?        Have you had an illness, new medicines, loss of feeling? Will these affect the way you use the device.

You should also report any serious injuries or close calls; contact the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. Additionally, you should contact your supplier.

For more information on home care, visit the sites for the American Association for Home Care (www.aahomecare.org); National Association for Home Care (www.nahc.org); National Patient Safety Foundation (www.npsf.org); and the National Family Caregivers Association( www.nfcacares.org)

Reprinted courtesy of the FDA (www.fda.gov).