What Does DME Mean in Medical Terms: Examples and Limitations

what does dme mean in medical terms

If you work in the medical field, you might have heard the term durable medical equipment (DME for short) used before. But what does DME mean in medical terms, and what purpose does it serve?

Below, we will examine what DME is, how medical professionals are using it, and the essential things to know about the costs and applications of DME. 

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Defining DME

DME is any doctor-prescribed medical equipment used in everyday life. Doctors issue this equipment to patients struggling to live their lives without complications stemming from an illness or severe injury.

For example, if you broke a bone in your leg and couldn’t walk without re-aggravating the injury, your doctor would issue an apparatus to make moving easier—commonly either a wheelchair or crutches. Those tools are both considered types of DME.

Medical equipment doesn’t need to hit any size, mobility, or technological thresholds for it to be DME. Rather, any medical tool that meets the following criteria can be durable medical equipment:

  • Patients can use it at home or in everyday life
  • It will last at least three years before needing replacement, barring accidental breakage
  • Patients use it often and only for medical applications

So, now you can answer, “what does DME mean in medical terms?”

Common Types of DME

Many different types of DME are used in the medical sphere, each addressing a unique set of medical complications. Below is a list of the most common durable medical equipment doctors prescribe, showcasing how expansive DME is.

  • Blood sugar meters and testing strips
  • Continuous positive airway pressure machines
  • Mobility devices, including wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers, and more
  • Infusion pumps
  • Non-CPAP oxygen equipment
  • Suction pumps
  • Hospital equipment, including hospital beds, commode chairs, continuous passive motion devices, and more

Essential Things to Know About DME

DME Limitations

DME devices are essential for many people to continue living regular lives. However, doctors will not always be allowed to offer ownership of this equipment to everyone.

Depending on the DME and the user’s medical needs, they might only be permitted to rent these medical devices. Similarly, there are DME devices where rentals are not allowed, and users will have to buy the equipment to use it.

There are DME devices that can be bought or rented as well. However, many of them have ownership limitations.

Acquiring DME

Medicare covers the cost of DME if both your primary care doctor and their DME provider have partnered with the service. However, if neither works with Medicare, your doctor might require you to pay out of pocket for the devices.

Fortunately, many health insurance suppliers offer coverage for DME, so you will likely not need to cover the total cost. So, that answers, “what does DME mean in medical terms?”

Boost Your Workflow with Help From PracticeForces

PracticeForces is a revenue management team offering comprehensive accounting services for healthcare providers. With help from our team, your medical practice can focus solely on delivering quality care to patients while we handle the clerical work and help maximize your profit along the way.

Call PracticeForces today at (727) 499-0351 to learn about tips when choosing an EHR.

Parul Garg, CEO and co-founder of PracticeForces, has significantly contributed to the growth of over 1,000 U.S. medical practices through her expertise in medical billing and coding since the company’s inception in 2003. With a background in Computer Science and an MBA in Human Resources, her leadership and AAPC-certified coding skills have been pivotal in managing the company’s operations effectively.

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