Sunday, July 25, 2010
Lately, I have noted an increased number of pointless aeromedical transports to our hospital. These usually come from rural areas with less than stellar crews on the ground making assessments about the patient's need for urgent evaluation.
Last week, just such a case arrived of a 20ish year old who was (according to the ground crew) "having a stroke". She had been in an argument with her boyfriend and developed tingling in her arms and legs, then couldn't feel her body, then began to 'draw up' and spasm and was 'unable' to speak, becoming unconscious.
When the helicopter crew deposited this young lady in my department, they thrust a form in front of me and said "sign here, doc". It was to certify that I deemed her transfer by air as medically appropriate. I refused to sign it.
As I discussed this with the manager of our EMS Ambulance service, I learned that this overuse practice is not only my observation, but a big enough problem that we are at risk of closing down the service because of the money that is being lost.
The cynic in me believes that a large part of the problem is that competing EMS providers are cutting costs at the detriment of another provider. For instance, if Company A has only one crew stationed in a given area, if they were to transport the patient by ground, they would have to provide backup coverage for the area while that crew is out of service. However, if they call the helicopter from Company B to carry the patient....problem solved!
Though this has been a problem for years, I have really noticed an increase in the abuse of the helicopter in the past few months. Anyone else made similar observations?
Posted by erdoc85 at Sunday, July 25, 2010