Perhaps the biggest problem that people who avail medical air transportation services face is unexpected costs that run into thousands of dollars, even when they are covered by their health insurance policies. Now, a new bill has been passed by the state of Virginia that seeks to end this uncertainty. The bill is called ‘Air Medical Transportation; Informed Decision’. The bill was introduced by Jeremy S. McPike and it went into effect on March 1, 2019. It was passed by the House and Senate of Virginia with zero votes against it recently. Here, we discuss what this bill will mean for the common citizens.
What is Virginia Medical Air Transportation Bill All About?
The bill mandates that hospitals establish processes, which necessitate giving an electronic or written notice to the patients or their authorized representatives. The notice should contain the cost implications of availing medical air transportation services. It should also contain the alternative options including emergency ground ambulance options. If the medical air transportation is out of network of the patient’s health insurance, this fact too must be made apparent. Even if the medical air transportation is covered only in part, it has to be brought to the attention of the patient or his/her authorized representative.
What will the New Bill will do for the Patients?
Patients in Virginia will now have the power to choose whether they want to avail medical air transportation services. Further, it will let them know the cost implications beforehand so that they do not get any nasty surprises in the form of huge bills later on. It is a good attempt by the state to bring about transparency in billing.
It is hoped that the medical insurance companies and the medical air transportation industry will ultimately come to an understanding with regards to costs, facilitated by this bill.
As far as neonates or newborns are concerned, medical air transportation is always considered a last resort, mainly due to the frailty of the infants. However, sometimes, medical air transportation becomes inevitable due to certain emergency treatments and diagnostics, which can mean the difference between life and death. Here are a few factors that need to be considered before availing medical air transportation.
Arranging Medical Air Transportation
Of course, if it’s an emergency, that demands an air ambulance, the treating physician would ask for it. Even if it’s not asked for and you wish to avail it so that the child gets the best care in the quickest possible time, you’d need to consult the treating physician. There are various parameters that the physician would check, before giving his consent for medical air transportation.
Altitude during Medical Air Transportation
There must be a clear understanding of what the change in altitude means for the clinical condition of the neonate. It must be noted that the barometric pressure goes down with the increase in altitude. If the infant has difficulty getting enough oxygen, arrangements must be made beforehand to tackle such situation.
Take off and Landing of the Air Ambulance
Reduced cerebral perfusion during take off and increased cerebral perfusion during landing can pose a health threat to the infant. There is also a possibility of intraventricular bleeding; however, it should be noted that such risks can be completely avoided by competent staff who are trained to handle infants on air ambulances.
Vibrations, Noise and Temperature
Vibrations as such do not pose a threat to the infant but can make securing IV lines and other such medical interventions a bit tedious. Noise can be an issue if any procedure is being performed onboard the medical air transportation vehicle. If the noise is going to increase beyond 125 decibels, special care must be taken to tackle this. There is a possibility of the infant experiencing cold stress. It must be ensured that the infant is in the right thermal environment.
A certified and experienced staff is always a safe bet when transferring a neonatal patient via medical air transportation.