As we see our patients progress and toward the time of discharge, we are frequently asked about DME and where they can be purchased. It often brings me back to the time my daughter was playing the violin and rather than renting the very nice one we thought it would be better to buy the cheap one. The instructor smiled and said the sound quality would be poor but he humored us and tuned it and allowed me to hear the difference. It was remarkable.
For patients who wish to purchase items for home use, do we allow them to make the error of purchasing cheap equipment we know has no functional value? Or do we recommend the better-quality products that work?
I hesitate to guide them to a local store that I know will have the products only because I do not want to be accused to influencing a patient's decision on where to shop for equipment. On the other hand, do we allow the patients to purchase cheap, ineffective equipment like my wife and I did with the violin? And in the case of patients, it can be more disastrous because a bad decision could cause a fall or worse.
We do have several equipment catalogs that patients and family can leaf through, but they usually want to see the items and get a feel for its weight and design before purchasing it. In compromise, I usually name several stores that carry the equipment they are looking for. But I sometimes feel I rob the patients of making the best choice because what if they never get to the best store?
One place I worked actually sold equipment out of the therapy gym. I thought this was pretty neat because the patients received the equipment right away if they purchased it and could test it out during a therapy session. Whether a profit was made, I have no idea. But it solved the dilemma of patients getting the proper equipment and being able to ensure it was safe for them.