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View Diary: I tried to take a taxi instead of an ambulance yesterday... (43 comments)

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  •  I totally understand your concerns. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, Catesby, MKinTN, JeffW

    As a Paramedic who daily transports people under emergent condidtions with 20 years under my belt doing it, I can say that I see folks every day with your same concerns. They are valid.

    What I don't like, and won't accept, is the painting of the 'ambulance ride' as the same as a 'taxi ride'.  It isn't, and never should be.  If it is, then the ambulance has been summoned for the wrong reasons, or the service is not what it should be.  People all over the conutry use the ambulance service, or their local 911 service, as the be all for everything.  I once got called because a woman wanted epsom salts to soak a finger in because she had cut her finger nail into the 'quick'.  No lie.  I also respond to roll over accidents on the interstate, gunshot victims, fires, motorcycle accidents, cardiac arrests and drownings, but hey, my safety in these instances is worth ... less than $20 an hour.

    Physicians do call for ambulance transport on any patient they deem to meet medicare's guidelines as a 'emergency' because if they do not, and an unfortunate outcome occurs, then some lawyer somewhere will accuse the physician of malpractice.  Hospital ERs that are associated with smaller hospitals without the equipment or the expertise to be stroke centers or heart attack centers or trauma centers also do the same thing, as do ERs without an operating CT when it is deemed necessary, or orthopedics or pediatrics or ob/gyn in those situations.

    I am faced daily with sick folks who are more concerned about the possibility that medicare won't cover their bill, or any portion of it, same with private insurance, than they are of the possibility of a bad outcome should they not go to the ER by ambulance.  Ambulance services (good ones) and Paramedics all accross the country are more than just a 'ride', they are mobile emergency rooms providing lifesaving care to folks in dire need of it.  Often, the very difference between life and death occurs because of the actions inside the ambulance on the way to the hospital.  I won't go into it all, but it's really sad to see a very necessary service portrayed as nothing more than something out to make money.  

    Many Paramedics and EMTs are underpaid and work with much less in benefits than their other counterparts in Public Safety: Police and Firefighters are usually employees of the government entity for the jurisdiction.  Medics and EMTs are often third service employees (meaning they are contracted employees of a company (think LaidLaw,now another name, yeah the garbage folks) where they get meager wages while a middle man company makes the profit).

    I understand and feel your angst over the charges, but don't blame the physician for acting in your best interest, the abulance for having to charge for it's service or the Medics for doing their job (sounds like they worked to rule out things maybe even your Physician didn't look at).  Blame the insurance industry for not doing a better job of compensation for really necessary service when it's needed.

    One other thing, folks talk about "medicare for all"; that's well and fine, but how many already knew that the reimbursement rates for things such as ambulance service even by private insurance is directly tied to how medicare treats it?  If medicare would deem a trip not 'medically necessary', the private insurance industry follows suit using the very same guidelines.

    None of this to belittle your story, it's important. Just want to make sure that the 911 system, ambulance service in general and Paramedics all over the country don't get the 'short end' of the stick in this story.  They don't deserve it.

    In honor of the Obama Administration's actions on GLBT issues during Pride month, Pride 2009 is proclaimed "Back of the Bus Pride Month".!

    by emsprater on Fri Oct 16, 2009 at 01:14:00 PM PDT

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