Air Ambulance Services for Organ Transplant

Air ambulance services play a vital role in transporting organs for transplants around the world. For countries like the United States and the United Kingdom where air ambulance services are well-evolved, the problem of transport hardly is an issue. However, the same cannot be said about other countries like Brazil and India where the concept of medical flights is still new. Many times, even when a donor consents, logistics prove to be a hurdle to get the organs to the recipients on time. What is lacking is a robust infrastructure to make the transport possible and in time.

Air Ambulance Services Can Solve the Logistical Problem

For countries like India, there is no lack of appropriate medical facilities and expertise to conduct organ transplants. In order to make air ambulance services readily available, different logistical approaches are now being considered. One among them is keeping medical flights on standby specifically for organ transplants. The idea is to keep air ambulance services handy to address this issue. All the metropolitan cities in the country have good air connectivity. The government and private players can come together to overcome the logistical issue and make organ transportation a seamless exercise.

The Role of the Government

Almost all airports are owned by the government in most countries. The government can therefore waive off charges that are involved in upkeep and parking of air ambulances. This leaves only the costs associated with fuel and flying, which can be covered through private payers or charitable endeavors. Of course, corporate organizations too can play a vital role in bringing funds for this cause. Ultimately, the transplant costs can be covered by federal or private health insurance. If a strong ecosystem like this can be developed, it will surely save the lives of thousands. It is something that demands serious consideration today.

 

Air Ambulance Association Files Lawsuit Over Regulations

The No Surprises Act has got everyone talking these days. From the word go, there has been a feeling in the air ambulance industry that the regulation is going to go against it. Now, industry experts believe that the fear is turning into a reality.

The intent of the No Surprises Act is excellent. In that, it plans to exclude the patient from the picture when a payment dispute arises. In other words, when an insurance company refuses to cover the air ambulance cost in full, the burden of balance payments does not fall on the patient. It is for the insurance company and the air ambulance service provider to settle the financial differences between themselves.

The Air Ambulance Association Cites Problem with IDR

IDR stands for independent dispute resolution. It has been drafted such that insurance providers and healthcare providers (including air ambulance service providers) can hold discussions between themselves and come to a conclusion on payments. If not, they are free to approach an independent entity as defined by the No Surprises Act. However, one of the clauses set by Congress says that no single statutory factor must veer in any direction during IDR. However, the air ambulance association felt that the federal government was weighing heavily on a single factor and that is qualified payment amount or QPA.

The Consequences

The air ambulance association is of the opinion that the impetus solely on QPA will have disastrous consequences for the industry and also the people that it caters to. If the insurance providers are the sole authority on the payments that are to be made for medical flight services, it may prove detrimental to the industry. Ultimately, it will act as a disincentive to the air ambulance business. Many air ambulance service providers may be forced to shut their businesses.

The Latest Air Ambulance News

From time to time, we bring our readers a curated list of interesting stories from the air ambulance industry. This week we managed to bring you a few happenings that were quite interesting. Here is a look.

Air Ambulance Services with Unvaccinated Patients Onboard May Not be Allowed to Enter the United States

The Bermuda Hospital board has warned people that they may be denied entry into the United States through air ambulance service even during emergencies if they are not fully vaccinated. Much of the world is still finds it hard to get access to vaccines. However, what has been even more worrying is the reluctance of people to get vaccinated. Countries like Bermuda have relied on countries like the United Kingdom and the United States for advanced treatment. Without being fully vaccinated, it might be an uphill task in the near future.

UK Man Sets on a Marathon to Raise Funds for Air Ambulance

Scott Owen set out on a marathon with a target of raising about 600 British Pounds recently. It was his way of showing his gratitude to the local air ambulance service that had saved his father’s life a few years ago. His 26-mile marathon surpassed his fund-raising expectations. He eventually ended up raising over 1200 British Pounds. Much of the air ambulance services in the United Kingdom rely on the local communities for funds.

CAMTS Awards Accreditations to an Air Ambulance Company

Accreditations are an important part of the air ambulance industry. They help air ambulance organizations to gain the trust of the general public and to maintain high standards of quality. The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) recently awarded initial accreditation to LifeGuard Air Ambulance of Cedar Rapids. The service is based out of Iowa. Along with this, it awarded re-accreditations to several other air ambulance organizations.

Vacations and Access to Medical Flights

Let’s face it – going on vacation amid the global pandemic is not the same as it used to be. Access to medical flights is an absolute necessity. While some parts of the world have completely shut themselves down to the outside public, others have taken a cautious approach. Added to this is the fact that more variants are constantly popping up in several parts of the world. Tests to ensure infection-free passengers have become a norm today. All these things have made it tough for emergency medical flights to function without any hurdles.

Medical Flights and Insurance

The importance of travel insurance is very high in the current scenario. For instance, you go on a vacation to Bali. You arrive in the country without any symptoms, enjoy yourself, and are about to get back to your home country. The travel, of course, will require you to produce a COVID-negative medical report. What if you find out that you are positive, and over the ensuing days, find yourself battling against the symptoms of COVID infection? Would you not want to be close to your family when an instance like this occurs? It becomes virtually impossible to travel to your country given the huge costs involved in hiring medical flights across borders. This is when insurance comes into the picture.

Looking Beyond Evacuations

The symptoms that you experience may not warrant medical flights but what about staying in the country that you are visiting. If you are on a budget, things can get a little tricky and travel insurance can help. You might need to quarantine yourself in a designated facility. Of course, if the symptoms are severe, you might even need an air ambulance to get to the nearest treatment facility, which can sometimes mean taking adequate permissions and flying back to your country. All this becomes an uphill task when you do not have the right travel insurance and access to medical flights.

Interesting Air Ambulance News Pieces from Around the World

The air ambulance world is never short of interesting incidents and the past week was no different. Some of the rescues were quite unusual. Besides, there were some new developments that give hope to the injured. Let’s take a look.

Air Ambulance Rescues Kite Surfer in the UK

The incident was quite unusual, in that a kite surfer who was having a fun outdoor day was unexpectedly injured. He was out kite surfing in Lyme Regis beach in the United Kingdom. Suddenly, a strong blow of wind carried him over 20 feet off the ground. The subsequent fall left the surfer injured and shocked. The passers-by were quick to attend to the man and a rescue air ambulance was called. The paramedics were seen at the spot attending to him. It is not yet clear whether the person was on board the air ambulance when it took off again, but one thing is certain, he received treatment on time, thanks to the medical team on the chopper.

Air Ambulance Successfully Carries ECMO in the US

A 24-year-old patient in a Florida hospital was in need of emergency transport for a lung transplant. However, the situation was quite tricky. His oxygen requirements were not ordinary. No oxygen cylinders or ventilators would be sufficient for his condition. What he needed was extracorporeal membrane oxygen or ECMO. The device had never been used on an air ambulance. Complicating the situation was the fact that the treating hospital did not have ECMO facilities. Thankfully, in a first, an air ambulance was able to have this device onboard. The patient was successfully intubated and safely transported to a facility where he had a successful bilateral lung implant.

Air Ambulance Deployed in the Remote Himalayan Region in India

Uttarakhand, India, is a scenic place that attracts both adventurists and pilgrims. The treacherous landscape has meant that landslides and flash floods are quite common. Rescue efforts have been hampered in the past due to poor accessibility. The country’s government has now deployed rescue air ambulances to make the situation better.

Medical Flights for the Elderly – Tips

One needs to be more cautious than usual when the situation involves the health of elderly people; medical flights are no different. If you have an elderly person in your home, you already know about the kind of precautions that you need to take beforehand even if it is a routine doctor’s appointment. The effort required is much more if elderly people fall sick in foreign nations and an evacuation is warranted through medical flights. If you are faced with a situation like this, here are a few tips that will ensure smooth transportation.

Know About All Existing Health Conditions

Medical flights can hold a lot of equipment. However, since there is a space constraint, usually only the necessary ones are carried. It is, therefore, vital that you mention all such details before booking medical flights. Besides, the information allows the air ambulance company to have the right medical experts on board. For instance, if the patient suffers from dementia or other such age-related ailments, special arrangements may be required.

Medical Flights Must be Told About Any Mobility Issues

While some elderly patients need wheelchairs, others may need wheelchairs with oxygen. From stretchers to hospital beds, medical flights can arrange anything, provided they get a proper insight into the requirements beforehand. The person booking the flight must be knowledgeable about such requirements. One does not need to be overwhelmed by it. A detailed discussion with the treating physician can help to a great extent.

Know About Companion Restrictions if Any

Depending on the medical experts and equipment required onboard, a companion may or may not be allowed to travel along with the elderly patient. It is good to know about such things in advance. One must be proactive in asking the medical flights about such minute details to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Insurance Company Sued for Denying Air Ambulance Coverage

Insurance coverage denials have long troubled patients, especially when they avail of air ambulance services based on the suggestions of treating physicians. It must be noted that any patient who is in a serious medical condition cannot deny air ambulance transport surpassing the suggestion by the treating physician. The situation has caused many instances where the cost burden is ultimately transferred to the patient when the insurance company denies coverage. This time around, it was a patient who was suggested to fly to a level 1 trauma hospital in Florida. He was on a cruise at the time, and he had suffered a myocardial infarction.

The Insurance Company Had Suggested Against Using Air Ambulance Service

Insurance companies usually suggest that patients are brought to the nearest appropriate treating facility, else the coverage is denied. However, it is the insurance company that decides the appropriateness of the treating facility. In this case, the treating physician had suggested a facility in Florida whereas the insurance company had suggested a nearby hospital. Despite what the insurance provider had said, the patient was flown to Florida. This was the reason why his insurance coverage was denied. In response to this, the patient has now sued the insurance company.

The Air Ambulance Bill Came up to USD 240,000

An air ambulance bill that runs into huge amounts, such as the one received by the patient in question, can run anyone into bankruptcy. The reason cited for denial was that the advice of the insurance provider was not heeded. The hospital expenses and the land ambulance cost were covered but not the air ambulance service.

The lawsuit was filed on the 6th of October by the patient and names the insurance company for denying the coverage. He believes that the insurance provider had wrongly tried to force him to avail of a medical facility that was not in his best interest.

Air Medical Flight Crash in Abu Dhabi

Tragedy struck the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, recently snuffing the lives of four people. According to the police of the country, the incident involved the pilot trainer whose name was Khamis Saeed Al-Holy along with Lieutenant Pilot Nasser Muhammad Al-Rashidi. The two seemed to have been in control of the air medical flight at the time. Also present in the helicopter during the tragic accident were nurse Joel Qiui Sakara Minto and Dr. Shahid Farouk Gholam. It was not immediately clear what happened and how the accident occurred as no details were reported to by the police initially. The news was initially made public by the country’s leading news organization, Khaleej Times.

Fog was Probably the Reason Behind the Air Medical Flight Tragedy

Although not announced as the reason for the air medical flight, it was seen that shortly after the crash, an advisory was sent out. This advisory cautioned people about the fog situation that was limiting visibility. Motorists were informed that the speed limit had been brought down to tackle the situation. It is a well-known fact that fog can reduce visibility down to dangerous levels. However, it is not clear as to why the air medical flight had taken to air despite the fact. It was also not clear whether the vehicle was enroute to a medical emergency.

The Sheik and the Police Express Condolences

The Sheik of Abu Dhabi Lt-Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan and several high-ranking government officials attended the funeral. Care was taken to maintain social distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation. The Sheik, later in the day, took to the popular social media channel, Twitter, to express his grief over the incident. Expressing his condolences to the family, he wished the souls of the departed rested in eternal peace with the almighty.

Medical Flights: COVID-19 Waves and the Fatigue of Dealing with Them

It is almost as if the world has lost count of how many COVID-19 waves have hit it so far. In the United States, while some of the states have it well under control now, others do not. Some even contend that they are facing a fourth wave of the pandemic. One thing is for sure, medical flights have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. With the number of positive cases running into several thousand, it is obvious that a portion of these COVID-positive patients is in a serious health condition. Then there are those who are in areas that do not have enough hospital beds or adequate facilities to treat their conditions. Medical flights are the only recourse in these situations.

Medical Flights are Witnessing an Unprecedented Demand

The rural United States is highly dependent on medical flights when it comes to availing adequate treatment. With the pandemic penetrating several rural areas in the country, the demand surge has been very steep. The flight staff is under immense pressure to meet this demand. In this context, it must be noted that the staff of these medical flights must wear special personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe. This impedes their mobility and can be quite tough. The body heat that the gear retains can make the day’s work quite exhausting.

Most Companies are Offering Extra Support to their Staff

Employees of medical flights are not just facing physical exertion but also the mental stress that comes along with it. Prolonged work hours in tough conditions coupled with the fear of contracting the infection and putting their own families at risk is one of them. On their part, the organizations that run medical flights are keeping a close watch and offering support to their staff in these difficult times.

A Marketplace for Medical Flights

What makes the United States great is the choices that it brings to its consumers. Enter a supermarket and you find aisles that are dedicated to breakfast cereals alone and people love this fact. It also makes the prices competitive where the end consumers benefit from cheaper goods. However, when it comes to medical flights the same cannot be said. It is not that there aren’t enough medical flights in the country. In fact, the United States has the highest number of air ambulance companies when compared to any other country in the whole world. Then, why are people not able to freely choose.

Medical Flights Need a Marketplace

If you are wondering what a marketplace is, here is the answer. It is a simple online platform that lists various medical flights and gives you all the details pertaining to them. The details can be the price, the locations covered, the services offered, the logistical capability, and any other value addition that the company brings to the table. This makes it easy for people to compare the options before them and make an informed decision. The tool will also compel the medical flights to keep their prices competitive and give out the best quotes to the consumers.

What Else Can a Marketplace Do?

A marketplace can go a step further from being merely a comparison engine. It can become a place where people can discuss their experience with an air ambulance service. Moreover, it can become a mechanism through which bookings and payments are made. Of course, there is going to be a degree of regulation surrounding this. However, if the federal and state governments become involved in the marketplace to standardize it, the benefits can be numerous. It becomes a win-win situation for all the parties involved. For a model like this to be a success, the service providers must be mandated by the government to register on the marketplace, so that it becomes a comprehensive spot to compare and book medical flights.

Air Ambulance and Medical Flight Transport Services: Everything you need to know!