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How to Safely Handle Medical Devices in the Home

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Whether a loved one has fallen ill or you have been called into service to help a friend with their aged parents, knowing how to handle medical devices and equipment is essential for the health of the patient and caregivers alike. Here are some tips for keeping everyone safe with medical accouterments in a home environment.

Electrical Safeguards

Oxygen extraction machines, pain medicine pumps and other medical equipment that use electricity should never be plugged into power strips or extension cords. Overloading an electrical outlet can cause a fire and endanger everyone in the home. Extension cords also present a tripping hazard. Also, plugging machinery necessary for survival into a power surge protector could potentially cause the machine to shut off or not work properly due to lack of power. Plug all medical equipment directly into an outlet.

Disposing of Sharps Properly

If your patient is receiving injections, you will need to get a sharps container of some kind for proper disposal. You can buy a sharps container from a medical supply warehouse and take it to your patient’s doctor’s office when it’s full. In a pinch, you can also use a metal coffee can. Just be sure to use a permanent marker to warn others of the contents and dispose of it properly.

Proper Medication Procedures

For patients who are taking large amounts of medications, caregivers may find it beneficial to create a spreadsheet or list of medication times and dosages. Some patients on palliative care measures may have a pump that drips pain medication intravenously. Make sure the dosage instructions are followed and that the pump is handled and maintained properly. If you are not sure how to proceed, you can call your patient’s doctor’s office for instructions.

Disposing of Contaminated Waste

While most soiled sheets and blankets can be washed in hot water using bleach and a standard washing machine, plenty of items such as disposable incontinence pads, colostomy supplies and used wound dressings need to be thrown away. Acquire biohazard bags for these items and ensure they are picked up by a company that can handle biohazardous waste. Do not ever place such items out on the curb for normal trash collection.

Mobility Devices

Canes, walkers, wheelchairs and toilet seat risers must be kept clean to avoid infections, so keep a supply of disinfecting wipes on hand. Children and pets should be discouraged from playing with these devices as well and be taught to stay away from the patient when he or she using a mobility device.
Learning how to properly handle medical devices is imperative to the safety and good health of both the patient and caregivers in a home setting. These tips will help you make good decisions when handling and disposing of medical devices.

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