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“Call An Ambulance…”

JIM CAGLE OF SPRINGFIELD, OREGON, HAS A HISTORY of heart disease.  So he knows the drill if he starts getting chest pains as he did recently.  He went to the Urgent Care department at the Sacred Heart Medical Center where he was evaluated.  KVAL-TV tells us what happened next:

At RiverBend Urgent Care in Springfield, doctors told him it probably wasn’t a heart attack but wanted him to go to the emergency room for follow-up tests.
 
The two are separated by two sky bridges in the Sacred Heart Medical Center complex at RiverBend.

So Cagle asked:  “Do you want me to walk, or in a wheelchair or what,” he recalled. The answer: “‘We’re gonna call an ambulance.’ So I got an ambulance ride from one corner of the hospital to the other.”

Despite his protests, Cagle says he was strapped to a stretcher for an ambulance ride from urgent care over to emergency. He doesn’t remember being treated while in the ambulance.  “Just a ride,” Cagle said.

The charge by Rural/Metro for ambulance transportation in Springfield has just gone up to $1,600.  That’s roughly $800-a-minute if you’re in hospital care at Sacred Heart.

KVAL has it covered in this video report:

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Dal90

    Absolutely silly.

    I have heard the same thing here, with a hospital probably much smaller. They even called for ALS, despite being a three minute walk from the ER.

  • Dal90

    Absolutely silly.

    I have heard the same thing here, with a hospital probably much smaller. They even called for ALS, despite being a three minute walk from the ER.

  • Greg

    Been there, done that. Just another abuse of the EMS system. The ‘E’ in EMS doesn’t stand for emergency, but for “everything”. The abuse is done equally by citizens, as well as “healthcare” providers like nursing homes, clinics, etc.

    I’ve taken dozens of trips across a parking lot of a particular hospital where I work. There is a nursing home behind the hospital, and anytime a doctor at the hospital wants a resident of the nursing home to be seen in the hospital, they call 911 and request an ambulance. Blood work need done? Call an ambulance. Patient has a chronic upset stomach? Call an ambulance. Not a private ambulance either. Those cost too much and take too long. Just dial 911, they’ll be here in minutes.

  • Greg

    Been there, done that. Just another abuse of the EMS system. The ‘E’ in EMS doesn’t stand for emergency, but for “everything”. The abuse is done equally by citizens, as well as “healthcare” providers like nursing homes, clinics, etc.

    I’ve taken dozens of trips across a parking lot of a particular hospital where I work. There is a nursing home behind the hospital, and anytime a doctor at the hospital wants a resident of the nursing home to be seen in the hospital, they call 911 and request an ambulance. Blood work need done? Call an ambulance. Patient has a chronic upset stomach? Call an ambulance. Not a private ambulance either. Those cost too much and take too long. Just dial 911, they’ll be here in minutes.

  • http://yourhappymedic.blogspot.com/ the Happy Medic

    Greg hits it on the nose. Well said.

    Thanks for the story Firegeezer, keep up the good fight and get rested, it looks like fire season is upon us!

  • http://yourhappymedic.blogspot.com the Happy Medic

    Greg hits it on the nose. Well said.

    Thanks for the story Firegeezer, keep up the good fight and get rested, it looks like fire season is upon us!

  • emt.dan

    I work for a private ambulance service that has a contract at a large, academic, urban medical center. Unfortunately, this is standard practice, and I do it at least once every 2 weeks. This is so for several reasons, not all of them good.

    1) The UC doesnt have the staff, equipment or protocols to transport the patient across the hospital complex. In order to maintain “open” they need a certain number of RNs and MDs, and cant provide the level of care to the CP patient en-route while maintaining coverage at the UC.

    2) Most likely, in the charter and SOP documents for the UC, they state that EVERY patient presenting with some symptoms (CP included) need to be assessed at an ER, no matter the workup or results. They need to maintain an affiliation agreement with an ER (most likely the one housed in the same hospital), and per the documentation, the patient must receive ALS ambulance transportation. Want to change that? Lobby your State DPH.

    3) The hospital bills for the UC stay and the ER stay seperately. In order for them to be billed seperately, there must be an official transfer of care, and the easiest way for that to happen is with an ambulance.

    4) It is entirely likely that R/M has a cut in this game– this may be a perk of their contract.
    Who knows.

    Even if the patient wasnt treated in the ambulance, he likely received O2, IV fluids and was monitored on a cardiac monitor. Vitals were taken 2-3 time during the time the ambulance crew saw the patient, and had he decompensated, they would have been able to act immediately. Even if 99/100 transports pass seamlessly, we need to be prepared for that 1 patient who decides to code en route. Who knows.

  • emt.dan

    I work for a private ambulance service that has a contract at a large, academic, urban medical center. Unfortunately, this is standard practice, and I do it at least once every 2 weeks. This is so for several reasons, not all of them good.

    1) The UC doesnt have the staff, equipment or protocols to transport the patient across the hospital complex. In order to maintain “open” they need a certain number of RNs and MDs, and cant provide the level of care to the CP patient en-route while maintaining coverage at the UC.

    2) Most likely, in the charter and SOP documents for the UC, they state that EVERY patient presenting with some symptoms (CP included) need to be assessed at an ER, no matter the workup or results. They need to maintain an affiliation agreement with an ER (most likely the one housed in the same hospital), and per the documentation, the patient must receive ALS ambulance transportation. Want to change that? Lobby your State DPH.

    3) The hospital bills for the UC stay and the ER stay seperately. In order for them to be billed seperately, there must be an official transfer of care, and the easiest way for that to happen is with an ambulance.

    4) It is entirely likely that R/M has a cut in this game– this may be a perk of their contract.
    Who knows.

    Even if the patient wasnt treated in the ambulance, he likely received O2, IV fluids and was monitored on a cardiac monitor. Vitals were taken 2-3 time during the time the ambulance crew saw the patient, and had he decompensated, they would have been able to act immediately. Even if 99/100 transports pass seamlessly, we need to be prepared for that 1 patient who decides to code en route. Who knows.

  • Capt. K., SFRD,CT

    I have one better than that!!!!
    Food service worker in a local hospital had chest pains. Goes to the employee’s clinic. Doc in clinic says “maybe some sort of heart problem”.
    Calls for an ambulance to take the patient DOWNSTAIRS, (bldg. was elevator equipped), to the ER.
    Local SOG is for a first responder engine to respond to any call for chest pains.So now, the call consists of 4 firefighters, a $500,000 dollar fire engine and 2 paramedics with their own ambulance to respond to INSIDE THE HOSPITAL and transfer the patient downstairs to the ER. WTF!!

  • Capt. K., SFRD,CT

    I have one better than that!!!!
    Food service worker in a local hospital had chest pains. Goes to the employee’s clinic. Doc in clinic says “maybe some sort of heart problem”.
    Calls for an ambulance to take the patient DOWNSTAIRS, (bldg. was elevator equipped), to the ER.
    Local SOG is for a first responder engine to respond to any call for chest pains.So now, the call consists of 4 firefighters, a $500,000 dollar fire engine and 2 paramedics with their own ambulance to respond to INSIDE THE HOSPITAL and transfer the patient downstairs to the ER. WTF!!

  • SAA

    I remember an incident many years ago in the Lifepak 4/Cadillac ambulance era.

    In Minneapolis, the Children’s Hospital is two blocks away from another major medical center. In between, there is a medical office building. A tunnel connects the whole complex. A visitor in the Children’s Hospital suffered a cardiac arrest. A well known pediatric cardiologist was present and the person was successfully resucitated. We were called to the Children’s Hospital and were tasked with moving the patient through the tunnel to the cardiac unit in the other hospital. We charged the full rate for the incident and didn’t even use the ambulance.

  • SAA

    I remember an incident many years ago in the Lifepak 4/Cadillac ambulance era.

    In Minneapolis, the Children’s Hospital is two blocks away from another major medical center. In between, there is a medical office building. A tunnel connects the whole complex. A visitor in the Children’s Hospital suffered a cardiac arrest. A well known pediatric cardiologist was present and the person was successfully resucitated. We were called to the Children’s Hospital and were tasked with moving the patient through the tunnel to the cardiac unit in the other hospital. We charged the full rate for the incident and didn’t even use the ambulance.