What Is The Difference Between Medical Supplies & Medical Equipment?

Medical equipment and medical supplies are often used interchangeably, but both of them are significantly different.

Medical supplies are items that are used in medical care or at home and are disposable and semi-disposable in nature. On the other hand, medical equipment is used for specific purposes of either diagnosis and treatment.

Medical supplies and medical equipment are essential tools that cater to different needs. And in this article, we explain in detail how these two notions differ from each other.

Medical Supplies

Medical supplies are among the most significant expenditures in healthcare organizations. They generally access medical supplies through a company selling them or directly from wholesalers.

People can also need medical supplies at home if they are caring for bedridden patients. These can be easily found in the local pharmacy or even stores like Walmart or CVS.

Types of Medical Supplies

Following are the types of medical supplies:

Central Line Dressing Change Trays

This is a pre-packaged tray that comes with everything medical professionals need to change the central line IV dressing.

It is an essential and very detailed procedure, with a high risk of infection at the central line if you are not done correctly.

IV Start Kits

IV start kits help in providing patients with fluids and medicine through their bloodstream. This is done by using an intravenous bag, securement device, needle, and tube.

This is one of the most common procedures in a hospital; some hospitals have assembled their IV start kits. Supplies in the IV start kit include:

  • Gloves
  • PVP ampule
  • Prep, alcohol pads, scrubs
  • Securement device

Supplies For Standard Procedures

As the name suggests, general-purpose procedure kits include supplies used on a routine basis for different procedures. Available procedure examples include debridement, chest tube placement, nosebleed procedures, incision and drainage procedures, etc. The main supplies used in public and standard procedures encompass –

  • Compartment tray
  • Gloves
  • Gauze
  • Cotton swabs and balls
  • Other tools like scissors, forceps, and scalpels

Supplies For Diagnosis Procedures

Many procedures are performed to treat, but some are performed to screen and diagnose a patient. For the diagnosis purpose, medical teams need certain medical supplies that include:


It measures the electrical activities of the brain to identify any heart diseases.


This is a blood pressure kit to test a patient’s blood pressure to diagnose cardiovascular, hypertension, diabetes, etc.


These are used in both healthcare units and homes to determine the body temperature to screen various illnesses.


These are used to test a patient’s eyes during an eye exam.

Medical Equipment

Medical equipment includes devices that need calibration, repair, maintenance, training, and decommissioning.

These are used for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Moreover, medical equipment is also used during rehabilitation following an injury or illness. Professionals can use it alone or along with other consumables or accessories.

And the fact that differentiates medical supplies from medical equipment is that the latter can be used for the long-term and reused.

Types Of Medical Equipment

Following are the types of medical equipment:

Durable Medical Equipment Or DME

It is primarily used for offering therapeutic benefits for some illnesses or conditions.

The medical equipment can is generally prescribed by the physician and designed to serve a particular medical purpose. There are various kinds of durable medical equipment that include:

  • Pressure mattresses
  • Hospital beds
  • Manual or electric wheelchairs
  • Walkers, canes, crutches, or other mobility assistive equipment
  • Traction equipment
  • Breast pumps
  • Insulin pumps
  • Patient lifts
  • Nebulizers
  • Kidney machines
  • Bili lights, blankets, etc.
  • Oxygen concentrators ventilators
  • Portable or stationary oxygen tanks

Diagnostic Equipment

This type of equipment or tool is used for diagnosing the health conditions of patients. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, these tests are performed through relevant tools to assess them internally.

The technician or doctor checks to see if there are any abnormalities in the particular body part causing the symptoms.

Common types of diagnostic equipment include:

Imaging machines

Imaging machines used in a medical setting are a technology that creates an internal representation of the human body.

This visual image generated by the tool is further used for medical intervention and clinical analysis.

Some of the standard medical imaging equipment include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT scan), radiography (X-ray machine), ultrasound, echocardiography, and many more.


These are used to listen to the sound of the heart to ensure that heartbeats are healthy and rhythmically.

It also listens to the lungs during the breathing process and blood flow in veins and arteries.

Doppler Tests

Doppler is an ultrasound test used to determine whether you have a condition that is blocking or reducing the blood flow.

Professionals may use it to diagnose a particular type of heart disease.

Pulse Oximeter

It is a test that observes a rapid measurement of the oxygen saturation level of oxygen in the blood without needing a blood sample or needles.

Treatment Equipment

This type of equipment is used to treat a particular condition by leveraging modern technologies. Examples of treatment equipment include:

Medical Lasers

These devices emit electromagnetic radiation to facilitate clinical application.

The energy level and pulse duration of these wavelengths differ based on the application.

LASIK Surgical Machines

This technology is essentially used for treating eye conditions.

Patients who have astigmatism, hyperopia, and myopia benefit significantly from this technology. Saturation saturation

Infusion Pumps

This treatment equipment is designed to infuse fluids, medications, etc., into the circulatory systems.

It is used intravenously; however, there are also options for arterial infusions or epidural.

Life Support Equipment

This type of equipment is used to maintain the bodily function of patients. Examples of life support equipment include:


It transfers breathable air in and out of the patients’ lungs. People who have difficulty in breathing are assisted with this equipment.


This device is dedicated to neonatal intensive care to create an environment that is ideal for newborn babies.

Dialysis Machine

Dialysis is a method of taking out excess toxins or solutes from the blood. This equipment is used on people who have damaged kidneys.

The Bottom Line

It is evident that medical supplies and medical equipment are used for different purposes but are equally important.

Together they help healthcare centers to offer comprehensive and quality care facilities.




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