RVSM is an abbreviation that stands for Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum. RVSM-approved medical flights must be fitted with certain gadgets such as autopilot and certified altimeter. These medical flights are allowed to fly 29,000 feet above the sea level.
RVSM allows aircrafts to fly maintaining reduced vertical distance between each other; thus, paving way for more medical flights to share airspace simultaneously and safely. While this may seem quite technical for a layman, there are other distinct advantages of flying above 29,000 feet. It brings speed, comfort and safety. Let’s discuss the importance of RVSM, especially with long-distance medical flights.
Safety of Medical Flights and RVSM
Safety is always the primary concern when you choose an air ambulance. Medical flights coursing at lower altitudes are more susceptible to turbulence. Such turbulences can cause unnecessary anxiety in the patient which is not advisable when the condition of the patient is critical or the patient is already anxious about his or her health.
Speed of Medical Flights and RVSM
Time is always of essence when choosing an air ambulance. Medical flights flying at higher altitudes fly quicker and burn lesser fuel. This means that the air ambulance does not have to stop frequently for fueling. Circling the airport, landing, fueling and resuming flight can be quite time consuming and RVSM approved medical flights avoid/ reduce such hassles greatly.
Comfort of Medical Flights and RVSM
The reduced chances of turbulence, when flying at higher altitudes, make travel comfortable for the patient. The difference in comfort level is not too great but for a patient who has a fragile health condition, the small difference can mean a lot. There is also the peace of mind that comes along when you know that the aircraft carrying you will take lesser time.
Cost is always a consideration when choosing medical flights. The fact that a RVSM approved aircraft burns less fuel could translate into lesser costs for you.
If you’re guessing that we are discussing more about health insurance, you must know that we aren’t. What we discuss here is the malpractice insurance and liability insurance coverage that an air ambulance service is mandated to provide. Let’s discuss each of the insurance individually and see what they mean for you.
Air Ambulance Service and Liability Insurance
What do you think of a car driver who does not have adequate liability insurance? The answer in one world would be “irresponsible.” The same holds good for an air ambulance service. You do not want to associate with an air ambulance service provider that doesn’t care for such responsibilities. In fact, all air ambulance companies in the United States must have a liability insurance cover of $20 million.
What if the air ambulance service you travel does not have liability cover? You don’t have to worry about that in terms of legality, it is entirely the responsibility of the service provider. However, such coverage is an indication of the air ambulance service provider’s reputation.
Air Ambulance Service and Malpractice Insurance
Of course, the last thing you want is a malpractice situation. There’s no doubt about that but medical malpractice does exist and you need coverage against it. Wouldn’t you want your physician or ground medical transportation to have malpractice insurance to feel secure? This should be no different for an air ambulance service. The law mandates that every air ambulance service in the United States has a policy that covers $1 million for medical malpractice.
Ask the Air Ambulance Service about Insurance Covers
The air ambulance service providers are under no obligation to make their insurance covers public. However, most reliable air ambulance service providers come forth with complete information regarding both liability and medical malpractice coverage. This shows that such providers are patient-oriented. If an air ambulance company is unwilling to discuss these details with you, perhaps you should look elsewhere for this life-saving medical service.
Nursing is a profession that demands passion and the compassion to care. While salaries are not always the best, the job satisfaction is always high as nurses are closely involved in making the lives of those they touch better. If you choose to be an air ambulance transport nurse, your professional life is, no doubt, going to be exciting. Administering medical care on airlifted patients warrants certain specific skill sets. Let’s first discuss the salaries of air ambulance transport nurses.
Salaries of Air Ambulance Transport Nurses
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses, on an average, earned $67,930 per annum. The top 10% of this group earned in excess of 94,720 while the bottom 10% earned less than $45,040. Looking specifically at the salaries earned by Air ambulance transport nurses, the salaries varied between $66,560 and $70,500 in 2011; this is in accordance with the data collected by University of Washington.
Outlook for Air Ambulance Transport Nursing as a Career
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects excellent demand for nurses in general. The employment growth is slated to hover around 26% until 2020. This growth is excellent and almost twice the projected pace of growth (14%) of all occupations in the United States.
Education of Air Ambulance Transport Nurses
As per Discover Nursing, air ambulance transport nurses need to be RN (registered nurses) first before venturing into air rescues. To become an RN one needs to opt among the following three choices:
- Bachelor’s degree in nursing
- Associate degree in nursing
- Nursing diploma
The next step is to clear National Council Licensure Examination for RN. The employers may demand additional certifications based on the demand of the job. They might expect the air ambulance transport nurse to be:
- Certified flight registered nurse
- Emergency medical technician-paramedic
- Emergency medical technician-basic
To be “certified” flight nurse, one needs to work as a flight nurse for at least two years according to Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. Working in critical care and emergency units is considered an added advantage for better employment opportunities.
It’s often a long and painful wait for an organ donor, no matter which part of the world you’re from. The number of donors around the world is much lesser than those waiting for a donor. Then, there is the issue of organ suitability. All these issues make finding an organ a prized opportunity. It is also vital that the organ reaches the recipient on time and this is where the air ambulance services often come into picture.
How Do Air Ambulance Services Help?
Air ambulance services help transport organs from the remotest of the places to the recipient in the shortest possible time. While air ambulance choppers are used for short distances, fixed wing medical aircrafts are used for longer distances. The air ambulance services are always available on-call in situations like these where a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Air ambulance services are considered 100% safe when transporting organs such as kidneys and liver. There are instances where even heart has been airlifted.
What Makes Air Ambulance Services Ideal for Organ Transport?
Two obvious reasons are the reach and the time taken by air ambulance services. The sophisticated aircrafts also provide a congenial environment for carrying the human organs. Unexpected eventualities like road blocks are virtually nonexistent. The air ambulance services also pave way to carry the patient quickly – with all necessary medical care – to a facility that specializes in organ transplantation. We need to understand that often recipients too are carried to a particular location, depending on factors such as time and availability of specialized hospitals.
The point to note is that most air ambulance services will take complete responsibility of coordinating the entire transport so that the organ reaches safely and on time. There are also insurance covers available to cover such air ambulance services. All it takes is a bit of planning and coordinated effort.
Availing a medical flight can be quite intimidating, especially considering the stress of caring for a loved one who is already in distress. Here, we bring you a typical medical flight trip and how things usually pan out. In fact, we walk you through the entire process.
What Happens When You Contact a Medical Flight?
When you call a medical flight company, you will be greeted by customer support first who would collect certain basic information and then transfer you to a case manager or flight coordinator. Here pertinent information related to the medical flight would be relayed to you. This is the time that you can raise any initial concerns such as average flight cost, flight timing, distance, and accompanying the patient. You will be asked to confirm payment arrangement for the medical flight. Feel free to take help of the treating physician and hospital staff if you are not able to answer questions relating to the patients condition or ailment.
The Medical Flight Coordination Begins
The information gathered from you will be relayed to the medical director of the air ambulance provider. The director will, in turn, get in touch with the attending physician. The attending physician would lay down the medical necessities of the patient so that the flight can be prepared accordingly. This includes qualified staff as well as medical equipment, and also information regarding transfer to an appropriate medical facility.
On the Day of Medical Flight
The medical flight company will get in touch with all those involved in the transport of the patient, including the hospital staff. The ground ambulance would take the patient up to the medical flight and the patient would be taken onboard. The patient and the person accompanying would be briefed on safety precautions and the dos and don’ts.
Upon reaching the destination, a ground ambulance would be already waiting to ferry the patient to the medical facility which is pre-decided. The patient is carefully offloaded and reconnected to any vital medical equipment in the ground ambulance as necessary. The medical flight team would brief the receiving medical staff about the patient’s condition before signing off.
The onus of arranging and coordinating between medical facilities, ambulances and the medical flight is taken care by the hospital and the air ambulance staff. All you would need to do is take care of the payment procedure and pray for the good health of the patient.
Alaska, the biggest state in the US is also one of the most thinly populated areas, apart from its rough terrains. Airambulance is often the only reasonable means of transport during emergencies. Most citizens of Alaska always opt for adequate cover through private insurance providers to cover any eventualities that may demand airambulance services. Airlift Northwest’s AirCare insurance program is one of them.
The Airambulance Insurance was Deemed Illegal Earlier
Late last year, AirCare was deemed illegal by the state due to a technicality. The problem arose when there was a change in the insurance company’s ownership. Thanks to Gov. Sean Parnell, the changes have now been made, so that the residents of Alaska can continue to enjoy the security of having airambulance coverage. The Governor had passed the bill specifically to accommodate insurance programs that reduce the “out of pocket” payment burden that people have to face. It was a part of the Affordable Care Act.
What does Airambulance Insurance mean for Alaskans?
Take the example of Lubins family. Their daughter, Ella, 13, had fallen off a horse and suffered life-threatening injuries including a skull fracture. She was immediately taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle via airambulance, as the local hospital was not equipped to handle the extent of her injuries. Ella was fortunate to get treatment on time and is now recovering. However, the cost had come up to $82,000. Thanks to the family’s insurance, they only had to pay about $9000.
In essence, airambulance insurance means the difference between bankruptcy and a normal life. The family only pays about $99 for this coverage. More than 3000 people in Alaska have so far opted for AirCare insurance coverage.
Airambulance insurance providers in Alaska also offer coverage to visitors. The coverage costs as little as $80 and runs for about 3 consecutive months.
We have seen far too many medical air services bills going unapproved by insurance carriers. It is sometimes hard to point a finger whether the insurance companies should be held responsible for payment or the medical air services. The state of North Dakota, however, has been trying hard to pass a legislation that ensures the burden is off the shoulders of the patients. However, medical air services seem to be up in arms against this legislation, and they seem to be making a valid point. Here, we look into this law and also the factors that are preventing its implementation.
Medical Air Services and Insurance
People who are not a part of Blue Cross Blue Shield are often left to fend for themselves when a huge medical air services bill comes knocking on their door. The reason is simple: most private insurance carriers do not cover the full air ambulance bills and only pay a part. Also if an air ambulance company is not a participating provider of your particular insurance provider, you might have to bear most of the costs yourself. But choosing the participating medical air services is not always possible when life is at stake.
The Government of North Dakota has realized this and is trying to force medical air services to become participating providers with all major insurance companies. The legislation also is trying to set cost limits, where the air ambulance companies cannot charge more than the upper limit set with the insurance providers.
Medical Air Services are Against the Legislation
Federal laws state that states cannot regulate medical air services. Certain air ambulance companies are vehemently opposing this legislation stating that the law would amount to interference that is beyond the purview of the state governments. In fact Valley Air Med has openly challenged this legislation in US District Court in Bismarck. The US Department of Transportation too seems to be siding Valley Air Med’s argument as it feels medical air services should only be guided by federal laws.
As things stand currently, Valley Med Flight has become a participating provider but has voiced its dissatisfaction with Blue Cross Blue Shield payments.
When we discuss medical air transport, we resign to the fact that it is going to be an expensive affair. Well, if you are one such person, you cannot be blamed. Media today is filled with stories about bankruptcies and bills that run over several thousands – all thanks to medical air transport.
What if we told you a few wise decisions can contain the costs to a large extent? Of course, it is wise to have medical air transport membership cards and insurances that cover you for air evacuation. But if you are caught in a situation where you don’t have the privilege of such facilities, how do you tackle the situation without having to pay a huge amount? Here, we bring you the answer to this pressing question.
Medical Air Transport Low Price Guarantee
Surprised?! Medical air transport industry today is highly competitive and there are service providers out there who bring you a low price guarantee. These providers will either match the price or bring you the services for a lesser price without compromising on the quality.
Medical Air Transport Vehicle
The medical air transport vehicle you choose can determine the costs. For instance, a twin-jet aircraft will cost less than a jet engine aircraft. Turboprops are another low cost option. As a consumer, you have the right to choose the aircraft in order to keep the costs low. Make cost inquiries about these options before you choose one.
Explore Alternatives to Medical Air Transport
Ask the treating physician whether an air medical escort or air medical stretcher service would suffice. Such services can cut the cost by half or even more sometimes. Also, sometimes, you can share a medical flight if another patient is heading in the same direction. This can be another option to cut down the costs.
Most importantly, never hesitate to discuss cost savings with the medical air transport provider that you choose.
The question has been long debated in the medical circles and the civilian population, especially considering the growing costs of hiring air ambulances. Here, we discuss a few arguments against the efficacy of air ambulances and point out why these arguments hold no water.
Publication on Air Ambulances by University of Texas Medical Branch
This research dates back over a decade. So, discounting the fact that the traffic as well as the overall population has increased today, we still go by the argument presented in the publication. The study was conducted taking into consideration data that followed 24 months after a hospital discontinued air ambulances and comparing it with the data 12 months preceding the discontinuation of air ambulances.
The study concluded that the discontinuation of the air ambulances did not increase death rate of patients with trauma or increase the transport time. Now, a lot of people arguing against the necessity of air ambulances might cite this finding. However, looking at the “abstract” of the publication, it is apparent that a few vital factors have not been considered.
Without the Air Ambulances, did the Same Number of Patients Reach the Hospital?
That’s the important question. The study says admissions to trauma unit decreased 12%. There was a whopping 17% decrease in admissions involving severe injuries. With the number of road accidents on the rise in the United States continuously, it seems surprising to see the number of emergency cases being reported to a hospital decreasing.
One explanation could be that those cases which demanded urgent attention did not actually receive it due to unavailability of air ambulances. That certainly is not an encouraging sign. The air ambulance networks that are available today can not only reach the patients on time and take them to the nearest appropriate facility, but also offer life-saving treatments during the flight. In fact, we have highlighted the need to get the patients adequate treatments before the golden hour earlier in one of our reports.
People who argue against the need of air ambulances must take the whole picture into consideration before making such sweeping statements.
Just because an aircraft is willing to transport a patient, it does not count as an air ambulance service, in any state of the US. Here, we discuss a few rules that have been laid down by Emergency Health Care Act. We discuss only such parts of the act that pertain to air ambulance service providers in the state of Texas. The rules may vary slightly for other states, but you would get the overall picture here.
Air Ambulance Service – What Constitutes Specialized Emergency Service
The vehicle must be specifically designed to carry the injured or sick by air. Also, all equipments necessary for transportation of the patient must be provided by the air ambulance service.
Any air ambulance service that claims to offer specialized transportation services must be licensed by the Department of State Health Services. This includes the aircraft as well as the staff involved. Even the air ambulance service providers flying into Texas from other states must be licensed by the Department of State Health Services and must be in compliance with the safety norms prescribed by it. Out of state providers must be accredited by Committee on Air Ambulance Medical Services. They would be considered to be in compliance with the Department’s norms if accredited.
The Location of the Air Ambulance Service
All advertisements of the air ambulance service provider must contain its physical address in the state. If the service operates from multiple locations, it is free to advertise them. If an out of state air ambulance service advertises within Texas, it must have at least one base in the state.
There is, however, one exclusion to state licensing. Any air transportation provider can offer voluntary service out of compassion without the expectation of remuneration and bear all the costs of transport. However, the company must be in compliance as a regular air transportation service provider.