Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the technical documentation of manufacturers on issues of safe use of their device in a home setting.
Methods: Three categories of equipment were selected: infusion pumps, ventilators, and dialysis systems. Risk analyses, instructions for use, labels, and post market surveillance procedures were requested from manufacturers. Additionally, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire on collection of field experience, on incidents, and training activities.
Results: Specific risks of device operation by lay users in a home setting were incompletely addressed in the risk analyses. A substantial number of user manuals were designed for professionals, rather than for patients or lay carers. Risk analyses and user information often showed incomplete coherence. Post market surveillance was mainly based on passive collection of field experiences.
Conclusions: Manufacturers of infusion pumps, ventilators, and dialysis systems pay insufficient attention to the specific risks of use by lay persons in home settings. It is expected that this conclusion is also applicable for other medical equipment for treatment at home. Manufacturers of medical equipment for home use should pay more attention to use errors, lay use and home-specific risks in design, risk analysis, and user information. Field experiences should be collected more actively. Coherence between risk analysis and user information should be improved. Notified bodies should address these aspects in their assessment. User manuals issued by institutions supervising a specific home therapy should be drawn up in consultation with the manufacturer.