Medical transportation is a lifesaving service provided to patients needing immediate medical attention.
Patient transportation is a vital segment of hospital care. It’s part of a pre-and-post-care treatment of a patient, both in emergency and non-emergency situations.
A safe and efficient conveyance improves the quality of medical care and patient satisfaction.
Patients with critical illness require safe passage to hospitals with essential life-support systems.
Quick medical services like an air ambulance service can travel faster and operate in wider coverage. Now, there is a sizeable number of patients opting for air ambulance services in the U.S.
Millions of people, especially in developing countries, get delayed medical care due to the unavailability of efficient medical transit facilities.
Patient Transportation: An Overview
Medical transportation is essential for people in critical health conditions and unable to reach the hospital on their own.
Safe MT is essential to get patients’ healthcare on time. It’s most valuable during a typical medical emergency like a catastrophe, accident, or contagious infection like Covid-19.
Currently, most places have medical rides and conveyance providers. These services are either managed by government administrations or private transport agencies like Priority and Insight. Most hospitals and clinics also have ambulance services and emergency transportation facilities.
Reasons for MT include:
- For medical consultations
- For regular follow-ups.
- Post-surgery check-ups and treatment.
- Out-of-state conveyance.
- Wheelchair support for people who cannot walk.
A transporter efficiently carries patients from home to a hospital with well-equipped life support systems and a trained nurse as a helper. To transport patients within the hospital, hospitals also provide wheelchairs, wheeled cots, and stretchers.
Patient conveyances services are costly; it’s good to have health insurance that pays for it.
There are two types of medical transportation based on the needs of the patient: emergency medical transportation and non-emergency medical transportation.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) provides trips to and from scheduled medical appointments. Wheelchairs, cots with wheels, and stretchers are included in NEMT, besides the regular vehicle and ambulatory services.
Wheelchair conveyance is often best suited to moving patients between medical rooms, surgical suites, or procedure rooms within the hospital.
It’s also suitable for taking patients to CT or MRI rooms. Hospital staff can use equipment like gait belts to help patients safely move from hospital beds to wheelchairs.
Once the patient is safely in a wheelchair, it’s the responsibility of the patient transporter to ensure they have all the necessary medical equipment. In addition, the safety features must be activated.
While EMS first responders commonly use stretchers when transporting patients to the hospital in an emergency, they can also be a safe method of transportation for bedridden patients.
Hospital staff can use transfer boards or rollers to help slide patients from the bed to the stretcher.
Stretcher transportation often requires a minimum of two patient transporters for optimal patient safety and comfort.
Patients transported via stretcher may also have medical equipment needs, which can be harder to accommodate, especially if the patient cannot assist.
Stretchered patients may need medical equipment like IV poles or oxygen tanks. Transporting patients through crowded hallways and elevators requires extra care and knowledge of the most efficient hospital routes.
With hospital trolly can be patient can be transferred to and from a bed to the hospital operation theater.
Ambulance transportation is most commonly used in the event of an emergency. However, an ambulance may be suitable for moving patients to another hospital or medical facility that can better meet their needs.
Ambulatory transportation is the most expensive but may be necessary for patients who require ongoing medical support.
Once the ambulance reaches the hospital, medical transporters may be needed to move the patient to their room safely.
Planning ahead can help ensure the patient receives the care they require, as patient transporters may have varying degrees of training. A few training skills that patient transporters may need include basic life support, advanced life support, critical care, or neonatal care.
Medical vehicles can also be a transportation option for patients unable to safely drive themselves to doctor’s appointments or the hospital.
Medical vehicles are often designed with mobility features, including the ability to lift a wheelchair in and out of the cabin.
The driver or patient transporter may be qualified to assist with basic medical needs. Vehicle transportation may also be an option for patients who are released from the hospital but don’t have a safe way home.
Emergency Medical Transportation (EMT)
Emergency medication transportation facilities are provided to patients in an emergency.
While transporting, it uses all lifesaving parameters to the maximum extent possible. It helps patients, essential medicines, or organs safely reach their destinations on time.
EMT services include the following:
Basic life support transportation (BLS)
In BLS transport, a medical technician on board is the key team member. The patient is monitored and supported with basic medical equipment while he is taken to a hospital.
The medical technicians help the patient live with emergency life support systems. In addition, the technician manages continuous monitoring and medical procedures to keep the patient alive.
Advanced life support transportation (ALS)
The ALS patient transport team includes a paramedic. The ALS transport vehicle has IV units, heart paddles, respiratory support, ECG monitors, paramedics, heart monitoring devices, etc.
Critical care transport (CCT)
CCT involves a certified registered nurse accompanying the patient to the hospital. This service suits patients receiving regular nursing care between hospitals and other medical facilities.
Neonatal Intensive Care Transport
The newborn babies may need to move to a specialist care center which is not available in the hospital where babies are born. It may involve transporting a baby from one hospital to another. The babies are relocated with intensive care support.
Challenges and Risks
Many hospitals need an efficient patient transportation team; some rely on the medical staff or nurses to move patients. It may sound like a financially viable option, but it seriously affects the quality of patient care.
Nurses and medical staff are removed from the floor, diverting attention from patient care. It ultimately creates a trickle-down effect that diminishes the efficiency of nurses and patient satisfaction.
If a nurse on duty is taken away from transporting a patient, a lack of staffing resources causes a delay in service.
Many hospitals need a dedicated transportation team to provide medical services. As a result, long wait times and even critical surgeries are delayed by a few hours.
Many patients need efficient medical transportation to receive timely medical care. Delays in treatment can have life-threatening consequences for a patient.
In addition, ill-equipped transportation systems and untrained professionals can even endanger patients’ lives.