Mesothelioma Home Medical Equipment
This page has been fact-checked by a Doctor of nursing practice specializing in Oncology and has experience working with mesothelioma patients.
Sources of information are listed at the bottom of the article. We make every attempt to keep our information accurate and up-to-date.
Please Contact Us with any questions or comments.
Mesothelioma home medical equipment can make mesothelioma patients more comfortable and mobile and allow them to live at home longer. Mesothelioma home medical equipment can be purchased from various suppliers and may be covered by private health insurance and Medicare.
What Is Home Medical Equipment?
Home medical equipment is any medical device used in the home for patient care. A nurse or other health care worker may use the equipment with the patient, or family members may receive training to provide care.
Medical equipment helps monitor the patient, administer medications, make breathing easier, or provide nutrition or oxygen.
How Does Home Medical Equipment Help Mesothelioma Patients?
Home equipment is often necessary to provide some level of care. Although the equipment may be expensive, it costs less costly than an extended hospital stay.
Home, or durable, medical equipment is often used by families when a patient transitions from the hospital but still needs some level of medical care. As patients transition from the hospital to home, there may need to be some extra planning to ensure the home is comfortable and safe.
This equipment also allows patients to stay home longer. Mesothelioma patients might be more comfortable. Staying home can also help them avoid hospital infections and other complications.
When Is it Time to Get Home Medical Equipment?
When a patient needs home medical care will depend on several factors. Working with a medical team of doctors, nurses, and specialists can help guide important decisions, like using home medical equipment.
In general, a patient may need this equipment if they are stable enough to leave the hospital but still requires some medical care.
The required medical care could be assisted breathing or medication administration. Home medical equipment can also be used to manage symptoms and side effects.
In the later stages of mesothelioma, medication may not be sufficient to manage pain; however, a piece of equipment may make a difference in comfort level.
What Kind of Medical Equipment Do Mesothelioma Patients Need at Home?
Exactly what a patient will need to have at home varies by individual. Their degree of illness, stage of cancer, and specific symptoms dictate their needs. These are some of the types of home care equipment many mesothelioma patients can benefit from:
Home Respiratory Equipment for Pleural Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of mesothelioma. This form involves the tissue lining the lungs and chest cavity. Because it affects the lungs, respiratory problems are common, causing both pain and difficulty breathing.
Simple home medical equipment can relieve respiratory symptoms and improve quality of life:
- A portable oxygen tank is a small but important piece of equipment for many mesothelioma patients. An oxygen tank can be wheeled around so a patient who struggles to breathe can walk around and still receive enough oxygen.
- A spirometer is another valuable piece of equipment that measures how much air you inhale or exhale. This encourages patients to take deep breaths to avoid complications such as pneumonia. This small plastic device tracks measurements to monitor a patient’s symptoms and progress.
- Mechanical ventilators help patients with late-stage pleural mesothelioma breathe more easily. It is also called a respirator. The machine blows air into the patient’s lungs through a tube that connects to the windpipe in the throat. It is important for home caregivers to understand how to use this piece of equipment safely.
Medical Equipment for Pleural or Peritoneal Effusion
Drainage equipment is often necessary for both peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma patients.
People with pleural mesothelioma often experience pleural effusion, a build-up of fluid between the layers of tissue in the chest. Pleural effusion is painful and makes breathing difficult.
Peritoneal mesothelioma patients collect fluid in their abdomens. This is known as ascites and it causes pain, nausea, swelling, and vomiting.
Draining this fluid provides relief. Newer medical devices allow patients to do this at home rather than going to the hospital. The devices must be installed surgically but remain in place for home use:
- An indwelling catheter inserted into the chest or abdominal cavity is one home device used to drain excess pleural or peritoneal fluid.
- One method uses a shunt, where one end is inserted in the chest’s pleural cavity and the other in the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen. This is called a pleuroperitoneal shunt. The body can better absorb fluid from the abdominal cavity.
- For patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, can also be drained with a shunt that routes the fluid into a vein. This is called a peritoneovenous shunt.
Another option is to have an indwelling catheter placed that the patient or family can drain at home. A small plastic tube is inserted into the pleural cavity. This one-way valve can be attached to a vacuum container to remove the fluid.
Other Types of Home Medical Equipment
In addition to equipment that relieves symptoms specific to mesothelioma and its treatments, other devices are more general.
- For example, a hospital bed can make resting easier and might help make breathing more comfortable. A hospital bed can also make getting in and out of bed easier.
- Mobility devices like walkers and wheelchairs give patients the ability to continue moving as long as possible.
- In the bathroom, assistive devices like shower seats and toilet chairs also allow patients to maintain some independence.
- Stairlifts can also be installed to help patients get to an upper floor.
How Do Mesothelioma Patients Pay for Home Medical Equipment?
Home medical equipment is expensive, but many health insurance plans, including Medicare, provide coverage. Medicare part B covers durable medical equipment. For equipment to be covered, it must be reusable, have a medical purpose, be prescribed by a doctor, and not be used by anyone who is not sick.
Most private insurance plans also cover home medical equipment; although, it may require a co-pay. In addition, Medicaid may cover the cost of equipment for those who qualify.
Veterans may seek assistance through the Veterans Administration.
Home medical equipment can provide an alternative to assisted living or a nursing home for some mesothelioma patients. For some, medical equipment can make the difference between being in pain and being comfortable. It may also make the difference between being bedridden and being able to leave the house.
Mesothelioma Caregivers and Home Medical Equipment
Medical equipment is important for supporting a cancer patient at home, but they cannot operate it alone. Caregivers are an essential element in home healthcare for very sick patients.
A caregiver can be a family member, a group of family members and friends sharing duties, or professional healthcare workers.
Caregivers of any type must be trained to use home medical equipment. Using ventilators, shunts, and other equipment incorrectly poses safety concerns. If you are a caregiver, be sure you learn how to use these items before operating them.
This equipment is important for many people, and everyone coping with an illness like mesothelioma should be aware of the options it provides.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Mary Ellen Ellis
Mary Ellen Ellis has been the head writer for Mesothelioma.net since 2016. With hundreds of mesothelioma and asbestos articles to her credit, she is one of the most experienced writers on these topics. Her degrees and background in science and education help her explain complicated medical topics for a wider audience. Mary Ellen takes pride in providing her readers with the critical information they need following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness.
Page Medically Reviewed and Edited by Anne Courtney, AOCNP, DNP
Anne Courtney has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner. She has years of oncology experience working with patients with malignant mesothelioma, as well as other types of cancer. Dr. Courtney currently works at University of Texas LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes.