In addition to tending to the illness of a family member or loved one, care givers are faced with the additional burden of simply not knowing what they need. They are for the most part left to flounder in something which can become an overwhelming nightmare. Dealing with irresponsible medical supply companies who do not live up to their professional standards is for the most part, unavoidable. Irresponsible medical supply companies are in majority in the United States.
Usually, a care giving family does not know what is needed by a suffering loved one. They are not familiar with the illness nor what supply(s) or equipment is needed or available. If they are lucky, a doctor may recommend a social worker at the hospital or nursing home otherwise, the person(s) are left alone to sort through the maze and attend to other urgent health-related issues as well. A good, professional medical supply company could be such a valuable asset; however, most are not.
Following are just several areas to exercise caution in when dealing with medical supply companies. Hopefully, families will not be confronted by the areas covered but chances are good that they will be at one time or another.
When ordering supplies or equipment, it would be beneficial for the care giver to have some foreknowledge of what is needed. Medical suppliers are typically very negligent about being better informed concerning their equipment. A care giver or person responsible for ordering needs to check to see if the product he ordered is indeed the same one in the medical supply catalogue as most are not regularly updated. Is the order number the same? Same color, finish, and size? Perhaps it has been discontinued.
If a mistaken product is delivered, it will take time to correct the error. Your patient cannot be left waiting for medication, bandages, inhalants or respiratory machines while the medical supply company may or may not try to correct the error speedily.
Another area of a medical supply company’s irresponsibility is having inadequate training in setting up equipment. An oxygen machine with the wrong oxygen setting can prove to be conducive to brain damage and fatality many times. Also, what happens if the machine malfunctions in the middle of the night? (1)
Another area of irresponsibility with most medical supply companies, is failure to deliver equipment fully-assembled and making sure all parts are included. If you order a patient lift and need to move the patient, you cannot leave the person dangling in the air while the medical supply company finds out if it is missing a piece. Every piece of medical equipment has to be fully assembled upon delivery as required by law. When a patient arrives home in an ambulance is not the time to start looking for a handy man.
Negligence in delivering the equipment when needed. A person with health issues needs the equipment when the physician says it is needed and not at the medical supplier’s convenience.
Accidental or intentional billing errors have proliferated since the inception of Medicare. And so has Medicare fraud. This writer answered the door one day to find a large carton of Ensure nutritional cans being 24 to a case. It had not been ordered so I had it returned. The Medicare Invoice was for $2,600.00. Calling the F.B.I. Medicare fraud division, I was informed the company claimed a “billing error”. Yes, this is possible but you see I live in Miami, Florida, the Medicare fraud capital of the United States, and Uncle Sam has been very negligent in prosecuting and virtually has no or few cases of imprisonment.
The irresponsibility of many medical supply companies is deplorable, but by knowing some of these flaws, care givers will be better able to watch for their loved one’s well-being.
Written by Beverly Anne Sanchez, 1/26/2011