NOTE: The initial determination of eligibility for the provision of wheelchairs is defined in Handbook 1173.01, Eligibility, Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1710, and Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 17.150 and is subject to the provisions of this Handbook.
a. Wheelchairs may be permanently issued or loaned at the discretion of the prescribing physician or Prosthetic Representative. This decision is based on the nature of the veteran's disability, the cost of the wheelchair, and the length of time the wheelchair will be required. Facility property wheelchairs, when available, are generally loaned by other than prosthetic personnel for leave periods or weekend passes. However, the Prosthetics Service may loan reclaimed wheelchairs for this purpose when necessary.
b. All wheelchairs are to be prescribed as far in advance of discharge as possible. Local medical center policies need to stress the importance of early prescription to ensure adequate time for delivery and patient education in its use and maintenance. If the prescribing physician is unfamiliar with the wheelchair requirements of the patient, the request needs to be referred to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service (PM&RS), Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Service or the Prosthetics Representative to ensure that all possible modifications are considered in developing an appropriate prescription to meet the medical and physical requirements of the patient. Unless it is contraindicated by the veteran's size, physical condition, or medical condition, beneficiaries who are permanently confined to a wheelchair are to be given a choice of style and colors of wheelchairs available, including the choice of manufacturer, under existing VA contracts.
NOTE: The existence or non-existence of a Blanket Purchase Agreement in a particular Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN), or other cost-saving incentives, does not affect the beneficiary's freedom of choice. This provision applies to all wheelchairs furnished to a beneficiary (primary, spare, sports-model, hand cycle, replacements, etc.)
c. All wheelchairs for use by eligible beneficiaries must be purchased from current VA contracts using established procedures unless customized wheelchairs are needed to meet unique patient needs as with SCI.
d. Unusual requests or experimental-type wheelchairs must be referred to Prosthetic Program officials in VHA Central Office in accordance with existing policy and procedures.
e. All Prosthetic activities need to maintain a stock of basic wheelchairs and the more frequently prescribed custom wheelchairs with the most common modifications for immediate issue. The number and type of wheelchairs to be stocked is to be based on the needs of the facility, as determined by an internal review and analysis of previous issues.
f. Whenever possible, reclaimed wheelchairs that have been restored are to be reissued and/or provided as a ward chair. Wheelchairs that cannot be economically repaired and reissued must be turned in to the Acquisition and Materiel Management Service, or other appropriate service for disposition.