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Should I buy medical equipment from Amazon or Costco?

In the ever-growing nature of online sales, it doesn’t take long to find medical equipment for sale on online vendors such as Amazon, Costco, Walmart, etc.  They have an ever-growing online sales presence, offering medical equipment from AEDs to blood pressure cuffs and supplies.

To answer this question, we must be looking to Health Canada licensing.  As a commercial practice in Canada, you are only allowed to purchase medical equipment from the distribution centres that are licensed under Health Canada to sell these products.

When you look up their information online, you can use a form that is available on Health Canada’s Website.  The link to their website is (https://health-products.canada.ca/mdel-leim/index-eng.jsp).  For instance, once you look up Amazon’s website, you can notice that Amazon can only distribute Class I devices.  If you are purchasing a patient monitor or blood pressure monitor, you are not allowed to purchase it from this supplier, as it is likely only indented for home use.  So on that topic, you need to pay special attention to all online sale items, as whenever they mention for Home use only, this implies that you cannot use it in our practice.

As an example, we were at the ASM22 trade show when a dental clinic came to talk to us about AEDs.  While talking to us, they noted that they were able to purchase an AED at a cheaper rate from Costco.  While there, we looked up the AED, and the AED listed at Costco was specifically for Home Use only, meaning that that AED could not be used in a commercial setting.

The next important step is to check out the Medical Device Active License Listing (MDALL).  In order to look up the listing, you will need to have access to the internet, and you can go to Health Canada’s website, where they have a search tool.  Here is a list of the Search Tool https://health-products.canada.ca/mdall-limh/.   Anytime you are purchasing a piece of Medical Equipment for your practice, it is important that it has an Active Health Canada License.  If the unit does not have an active Health Canada License, you are NOT allowed to purchase this unit for use in Canada for your practice.  The search tool that Health Canada offers is easy to use, and if successful, you can find your device listed.

The next important step is to see if the unit is CSA-approved (or equivalent).  It is extremely important to ensure that the device complies with electrical standards here in Canada.  To comply with this standard, the unit must be labelled with the appropriate association.  Although CSA is a well-known association, others might be UL, ETL, and Special Inspection labels.  The only label that can be applied after manufacturing would be a special inspection label which shows that the unit is approved for use here in Canada.

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Written By: Tyler Hasenpflug