Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another Air Ambulance Crash

Flying patients by helicopter is a subject of much controversy in the EM literature. There sometimes is no other way to get a sick patient to definitive care, but the statistics are shaky on whether the helicopter is, in the end, worth it. We posted on this just a month ago, and, tragically there has been another crash. With specialists fleeing for the relative safety of large multi-specialty hospitals and ERs closing they are used more and more. EMTALA strikes again.


  1. The helicopter was tied up the other day trasnporting a 92 year old with a brain bleed, it would have taken the ambulance service 40 minutes by ground to take the patient to the nearest hospital that can handle a brain bleed (the hospital in that town in manned by a RN and a PA...yea). Absolute air ambulance abuse right there.

    How do I know the above? We were calling for the helicopter. A pre-teen was involved in a rollover. Bilateral femur fractures and internal bleeding...among other things. We had to take her by ground (a little over an hour) to the nearest trauma surgeon...because the fucking helicopter was tied up taking a 92 year old person with a fucking brain bleed to the hospital...

    Air ambulance abuse sucks ass.

    Rest in peace, brothers and sisters.

  2. That is unfortunately an all too common scenario in both air and ground EMS. What a crock of shit..92 yr old ICH. Allow him to die at home..There's nothing to do for that patient..Sorry e..

  3. Funny how willing to armchair quarterback some folks are. How do we know that the receiving physician didn't request/demand air transport? And as far as the hospital "manned by a nurse and a PA" is concerned...well, then perhaps a doctor should step up and man the place for what the PA and/or nurse are paid. As a PAC who spent 3 years in flight medicine (working as a PAC, by the way) in Alaska AND working in remote/wilderness/bush practice around the world AND cut his teeth on 10 years of urban ER practice, I'm shocked and disgusted by the commentary here. But, sadly, not at all surprised.

  4. dear anonymous,
    i'm not quite sure what you are upset about. why exactly should a doctor 'man up' and go to bumblefuck wherever and practice in an environment where he or she has no back up and make a lot less money? because you think he should? if the government were willing to cut these physicians a break on liability then they would be there in droves, but practicing EM without backup is nothing but a quick trip to the courtroom where you will lose everything you have worked for. of course, working as a PA you aren't subject to this liability so it's easy to 'armchair quarterback' this, as you say. and good for you for doing what you did and do, but why does that mean everyone should do it? we have all been in the shit, my friend, and it sounds like you have too. wow. you did exactly what you wanted but want to deny that to others and want some form of 'social justice' which is, i guess, going to be defined by you, to be imposed by someone else. the fact is that people are dying in aircraft crashes because of a stupid unfunded mandate that has taken medicine completely out of the market and stifled competition. doctors have fled rural practice because of it. helicopters are great but they crash and in many cases these crashes wouldn't have happened 20 years ago because 20 years ago there were tons of subspecialists who WANTED to work in rural America. not anymore, and if you expect them to put their patient's well being ahead of their family's well being then you are high.