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Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

What is durable medical equipment?

Durable medical equipment (DME) describes medical equipment and supplies ordered by a healthcare provider for a patient's routine, long-term use. DME refers to a wide variety of devices to meet all manner of medical needs, including:

  • Nebulizers
  • CPAP/BiPAP machines
  • Catheters
  • Hospital beds
  • Wheelchairs
  • Blood glucose monitors

Many insurance plans provide coverage for DME, including Medicare Part B. To qualify as DME under Medicare, a piece of equipment or device must have an expected lifespan of about 3 years with repeated home use and serve a strictly medical purpose. 

Expendable medical supplies such as bandages, masks, and rubber gloves are not considered DME under Medicare.

Why is durable medical equipment important?

Durable medical equipment (DME) enables patients with a debilitating medical condition, illness or injury to achieve a higher quality of life while living at home.

DME may be ordered by a healthcare provider to accommodate a patient's temporary disability, as in the case of a wheelchair or crutches for a recovering patient, or as part of a patient's long-term care plan for their chronic or life-limiting condition, such as a mechanical ventilator for a patient with advanced lung disease.