This question was posed by an ALN reader. We asked Blair Klayko at DRE Veterinary to offer information on purchasing used veterinary medical equipment.

Refurbished medical equipment is an appealing option for many facilities because it typically costs less than new equipment with all the same functionality and saves time training on new equipment by using familiar models that have been brought back to like new condition. Facilities need to weigh their options when making large purchases to work within demanding budgets and priorities.

There are several factors facilities should consider when buying refurbished medical equipment based on their needs and the seller’s refurbishing process.

What Does Refurbished Mean?
It is important to understand what refurbished medical equipment is. Refurbished medical equipment functions as well as new equipment. The refurbishment process is intended to return a product to manufacturer’s standards, which includes: complete inspection, replacement of worn parts, recalibration, cosmetic maintenance, and confirmation that the equipment is in working order and in excellent condition.

How Much Do I Want to Spend on This Device?
Determine your budget. If your facility is looking for quality without the cost, refurbished equipment can be 30 to 70 percent less expensive than new devices.

What Do I Like?
You also must assess which equipment you are currently using. Consider which features you like on your present device and what technological innovations have been made since your equipment was manufactured. If the newest technology is similar to your current model, refurbished may be the best option so you can eliminate the learning curve on purchasing new equipment. You can replace non-working medical equipment you currently use with the same unit that has been refurbished and is fully-functional.

What Warranty is Offered?
New medical devices come with the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) warranty, which covers software and hardware defects under normal condition of use. Many refurbished devices come with warranties, but these may be limited in time or coverage. Check to make sure the device is covered.

What are the Levels of Refurbishment?
Used medical equipment can be reconditioned to different stages of refurbishment depending upon the needs of the customer:

  • Reprocessed Medical Equipment goes through a detailed, multistep process to clean and disinfect or sterilize.
  • Cosmetic Refurbished Medical Equipment refers to used pieces of equipment that are tested and prove to be in correct working order and only need cosmetic repairs before they can be resold. Cosmetic refurbished devices are commonly sold for demonstration or teaching purposes. In these cases, customers want the equipment to look nice, but don’t require the machine be in a working condition.
  • Parts Refurbished Medical Equipment occurs when parts within the machine do not pass inspection for manufacturer’s specifications and need to be replaced. Those parts can either be from the OEM or certified used components sold through distributors of medical equipment.
  • Fully Refurbished Medical Equipment is used medical equipment that has been fully refurbished and restored to its original, like-new condition. In some cases, a refurbished unit may even receive enhancements that make it superior to the original unit. Full refurbishment usually requires both cosmetic improvements and major parts replacement.

Does It Still Have Support?
Although older medical devices can be refurbished back to OEM standards, many original manufacturers stop providing support for older parts as new models of equipment are produced. It is important to ensure that your device still has support, should repairs need to be made.

What Else Am I Looking For?
Finally, prioritize your requirements for the device you are purchasing. Factor in how long you need the device to last. How frequently does your facility purchase equipment? You also want to be sure the company you are working with has a reputable refurbishing process. Are the biomedical engineers certified and trained? How long has the company been refurbishing medical equipment? Do they refurbish in house or outsource?

By asking yourself these questions, you will be able to find the most appropriate refurbished device and save money for your facility.

Our thanks to Blair Klayko for taking the time to respond to this question. DRE Veterinary, 1800 Williamson Court, Louisville, KY 40217, 502-244-6345,