Patients opting out of ambulance rides
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/ WMGT) – The girlfriend of 45-year-old Larry Harden found him in their home with multiple gunshot wounds. She then drove Harden to the hospital, herself. Harden’s girlfriend isn’t the only one who chose not to wait for an ambulance.
A growing trend of people opting out of calling for an ambulance in an emergency are, instead, grabbing their keys and taking themselves to the hospital.
“When people call 911, it’s the worst day of their life,” The Medical Center, Navicent Health Medical Director for EMS Nathan Stokes said.
Even in an emergency, it comes down to time and money.
“People recognize the timeliness to try to achieve and gain access to emergency care,” he said.
Stokes says they aren’t a taxi service. So, if you use dispatch dental pain or medication refills, then yes, you’re wasting your money.
“Over utilizing a resource may contribute to the increase cost of healthcare, as a system,” Stokes said.
If you have questionable symptoms, like chest or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, or a gunshot wound, call 911.
“If you feel unsafe, if you feel trying to get access to the emergency department, or the hospital would be unsafe by any other way, you should really call EMS,” he said.
By getting behind the wheel you are putting yourself and others at risk. But, with the EMS service it can cut the risk.
“EMS can provide care. Instruct the care from the time that they arrive on scene, so you can be in the process of receiving treatment from the point that EMS encounters the patient, to the time they get to the hospital,” Stokes said.
He says there’s some misconceptions patients have about dispatch.
“If they talk, resources aren’t on the way. That we are holding the resources until we get all of the information, but that’s not necessarily true,” Stokes said.
He says to focus on the questions dispatch is asking. They’re just trying to send the right response, with the right equipment.
“Folks on the other end of the phone will help make sure you have the right resource in the timely manner that you need it,” he said.
Before grabbing your car keys, ask yourself if you’ll do more harm than good, to yourself and others, on the road
Stokes says the two things patients call about after their service is cost and that the ambulance took too long. Stokes says that’s not the case. During an emergency, one minute can feel like an eternity. In reality, he says they’re on scene in a matter of minutes.