Friday, February 19, 2016

Take a Cab, not an Ambulance

6 years ago, when I got hit by a car while riding my bike, a kind woman sat with me and called an ambulance.  When the ambulance arrived, I asked to be taken to the hospital I trust. The paramedics on the ambulance jabbed a needle in my arm against my wishes and when I woke up, I was in a hospital I’d never have chosen.

I called the fire department, which handles the ambulances.  They said they only take people to the nearest hospital.  The fact that the one I wanted was only a few blocks away didn’t matter. They also said I had “lost consciousness.”

The ambulance sent me a bill for $500.   I could have taken a cab to the hospital of my choice for less than $20.  It never occurred to me to ask the kind woman phoned 911 to call me a cab instead.

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Last week, my 93-year-old mother thought she was having a heart attack.  She wears an alert call button.  She pressed it.  The company sent an ambulance. It took her to a hospital that made her wait in the ER for 2 hours before they ran some blood tests and told her it wasn’t a heart attack.  They didn’t tell her what might have caused that pain.  They did offer to run a bunch of expensive tests, but could not promise to tell her what was wrong.  So she decided to leave “against medical advice.”  Her ambulance bill was $1000.  She doesn’t know if her insurance will cover anything because she left AMA. And, like me, she has a hospital she prefers to the closest one.

I see no advantages to an ambulance over a cab, if you are conscious.

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