Advances made in medical technology have given people new devices that they can now use on a regular basis. From wearable devices to surgical implants, these devices perform critical jobs like monitoring vitals and watching for signs and symptoms that the patient may need medical assistance.

Because these devices perform important jobs, it is imperative that they work properly at all times. Incorrect readings from a device, or a device that has stopped working altogether, are not just frustrating but can be life threatening. So how do patients ensure that these devices are working properly and protect themselves from a faulty device?

Speak to Your Medical Professional

First things first, it is important to speak to your medical professional about the device when you first acquire it. You need to be aware of how to use it, what you are using it for, and the type of readings that it should give. The doctor should also give you a window of safe readings, the numbers or readings you should expect and which numbers or readings are cause for concern.

If the device is being surgically implanted, such as a pacemaker, then the conversation with your doctor needs to be much more in-depth. You need to know what it should feel like as you recover from the procedure, signs to watch for that the device may not be operating properly or failing, and how you should feel moving forward.

While rare, sometimes the medical device can be defective or even dangerous. This can lead to serious harm in the patient, which is exactly why you need to know what to watch for. An excellent example of this is a hip replacement, which has been known to have issues from time-to-time when a metal hip implant is used. These can lead to tissue damage and potential failure in the device itself.

Some devices may carry with them limitations on what you can and cannot do. This is to ensure the device is protected, and that you are protected. These instructions should be followed carefully.

Also, ask your doctor if there is recommended literature on the device or handouts that they can provide.

Do Your Own Research

While your doctor, surgeon, or nurse is the best source of information, that is not to say you should not do your own research as well. Upon learning that you will be getting a medical device, it is up to you to take control and research the procedure, the device itself, and possible issues that can arise. The more information you can gather, the better prepared and informed you will be.

If you know of any friends, family, or coworkers who have had the same medical device you can also ask about their own personal experience. Additionally, ask about recovery time and if they have encountered any issues with faulty or defective devices.

Book and Attend the Follow-Up Appointment

After receiving your medical device, odds are high that you will be asked to book a follow-up appointment. This appointment is extremely important to attend as this is a chance for the doctor to ensure the device is working properly, that there are no signs of complications, and for you to ask any questions.

As for the timeline for which the follow-up appointment should be booked, your doctor will be able to advise you on this. Some devices will need to be checked on much sooner than others.

Keep Track of How You Feel

It is also a good idea to keep track of how you are feeling for those first few days or weeks after getting your medical device. This will act as a log should there be a problem and your doctor needs as much information as possible from you. Ideally, you should be writing the information down in a safe and secure place, so it can easily be shared with your doctor.

Is It Covered by Insurance?

There are a large amount of medical devices covered under typical insurance plans. It may be that you have full coverage for the device you need, which will also offer you replacement protection if needed. Devices such as custom-fitted hearing aids, artificial hips, and prosthetics may all be covered. It is best to speak to your insurance provider to ask if the particular device you need is covered and what will happen in the case of a faulty device.

Play It Safe

While it is impossible to protect yourself from the medical device ever becoming faulty, there are measures that you can take to help ensure it stays in good working condition. Make sure that you are at least informed as to the warning signs and symptoms to watch for.

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My name is David Liu and I'm a researcher and writer for Drugwatcher.org. In a previous life, I briefly worked as a lawyer, but after a short career I made the switch to pursue my passion for writing. Luckily in my current work I can combine my passion for law with my second passion, health. In 1996, I graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a master’s degree in health law. I have been published in several research journals and peer-reviewed publications and I'm a proud father of 2 daughters.

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