Buying Medical Products from Online Retail Outlets
Written By: Tyler Hasenpflug CET
We are often called upon to answer questions from our clients such as “I just bought this unit online from <insert company name here> and why did you fail the unit?” This is often a loaded question because, more often than not, the client that is asking this question, is asking it because we have been onsite to test and certify their unit and the unit we tested was not compliant. The client will often ask things like: why did the unit I just buy fail, as it is brand new? We purchased it online from a reputable dealer; when they are asking me these questions I will always ask the following two questions, did you check to see if your unit is CSA or UL approved? Did you check to see if your unit is Health Canada licensed? More often than not the line usually falls silent which indicates to me that they failed to ask these key questions.
Health Canada License
In Canada you are not allowed to use a piece of medical equipment for professional use if it does not carry this number at the time of purchase. If you are hearing about Health Canada for the first time this may be a problem, but it can easily be corrected by reading the rest of this article. Health Canada is an organization that is in place to help Canadians stay safe by governing the equipment that is sold in our country. We at TRH Services are a Health Canada licensed company which means that all equipment that we sell carries a current Health Canada License number and is CSA or UL approved.
If you purchased a piece of medical equipment online, you may not have checked to see if the unit or the accessory that you purchased carried the necessary license(s). When you are buying a piece of equipment online it is necessary to check to make sure that the unit is Health Canada licensed, and you can easily check this by logging on to Health Canada’s website and completing a search. If your search(s) fails to yield any results, the chances are that the unit that you are buying is not licensed so my recommendation would be to stay away. If you still want to buy this unit and cannot find the licensed number you can always ask the vendor that you are purchasing the unit from questions like: what is your Health Canada License number? And what is the Health Canada number on this unit that I am buying. All vendors that are selling a Health Canada Licensed unit are typically required to have a license themselves which allows them to sell this product. The next question is, what is the Health Canada License on my unit that I am buying? If they don’t know, do not buy the product. If they give you a Health Canada Number, you can double check the number on Health Canada’s website, which will help you protect your investment. If your unit is Health Canada Licensed you are in the clear to proceed to the next set of questions to ask.
The next set of questions to ask the vendor that is selling the unit is, is this unit CSA / UL approved? Now, you may be part of the population that has never heard of either CSA or UL standards. In the case of medical equipment the CSA or UL standards are used to license or approve pieces of equipment that meet their electrical safety standard, and possibly their infection control standards. In order to qualify to be either CSA or UL approved the device that you are buying must have their logo’s printed on the case of the unit. If the CSA or UL logos are not printed on the unit, chances are that the unit is not CSA or UL approved. There are some cases where equipment has a special inspection approval which is typically done by a company that works for the ESA (Electrical Safety Association). If your vendor verifies that the unit that you are purchasing has the CSA or UL logos on it, you are good to proceed with purchasing the equipment. If the equipment fails to have the CSA or UL logos on it, my recommendation would be not to purchase the equipment as it can sometimes by costly to get a special inspection completed on one item.
The TRH Value
There are many common problems with purchasing equipment online and they are generally attributed to Health Canada license problems or not being CSA or UL Approved. By asking are questions to your online vendors it will help keep you be better protected when purchasing equipment online. Always remember to ask the following questions:
- What is your Health Canada vendor’s license number?
- What is this units Health Canada License number?
- Is this unit CSA or UL Approved?
Following these steps will help when purchasing equipment from online retails outlets however, it is not a bullet proof system. In some select cases certain medical equipment cannot be imported in which case your unit that you purchased will be stopped at customs and returned to your online retailor. The next common problem with purchasing units from Online retailors is that if your unit ever breaks we cannot always get the parts that we need in order to fix the problem as some parts that make up the equipment that you are purchasing cannot be imported.
The added value of having TRH Services as your service provider is that we can always lend a helping hand when purchasing equipment online. This may be as simple as sending you the links to the websites that will help you look up the Health Canada license number on this unit, or giving you feedback on the quality of the unit that you are buying. If you are ever in doubt about buying a unit, it is best to ask us for our advice.
As always we are able to assist you Monday to Friday with your concerns from 8am to 4pm EST out of our office at 23-140Mcgovern Dr., Cambridge, Ontario, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org