Medical Transport. How To Choose a Service?

Health |

Be a savvy consumer

How do you know what is the best mode of medical transport for your circumstances? In emergency situations, that decision likely will be made by the rescue and medical personnel who first respond. In non-emergency situations, the attending physicians and staff likely will aid you in your decision. When you contact a private medical transport company, personnel should be helpful and open in answering your questions.

“Many people assume that air ambulances are highly regulated by the FAA,” says Steven F. Gudgell, Transportation Administrator for Mayo Medical Transportation at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “The fact is that they are monitored for compliance with the minimal applicable FAA rules and regulations related to pilots, mechanics, and flight operations. Medical care regulation is the responsibility of the individual states that license ambulance services. The level of regulation and quality monitoring is quite variable.”

Here are some questions to ask when choosing medical transport services:

Is the ambulance equipped to handle ill or injured persons of any age?

What are the qualifications of the transport team, and have they had any special training?

What standard medical equipment, medications and supplies are carried?

Does the service coordinate every aspect of the transport including air and ground transportation and communication with appropriate referring and receiving medical facilities? Will they assist you in making medical appointments at those facilities?

What are the fees based on — a base rate, mileage, supplies used, staff required, time of transport, how long it takes? How and when are you billed?

Do you need prior approval from your insurance company?

Can family members travel with the patient at no extra cost?

In the case of air travel:

What are the company’s qualifications?

What is the company’s safety record? Has it had any FAA violations?

What type of aircraft will be used?

What are the qualifications of the pilots? Will there be one or two pilots aboard the aircraft?

How many health care team members go on a flight?

Is the air ambulance company a member of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) or the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS)?

At a time when travel may be the last thing you or your family want to consider, knowing your options and who to call for assistance, may ease your decision. Seek the assistance of hospital staff and your insurance provider. By weighing factors such as time, cost and quality of service of ambulance providers, you can make an informed decision about medical transport.

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