More often than not, we hear about skyrocketing medical flight bills that families are forced to pay. While it is natural for such families to feel victimized, having some prior knowledge about insurance coverage can prove helpful. If you are among those people who feel all they need to do is pay health insurance premiums, sit back and relax, here’s some news: your most basic health needs might not be covered. This mostly happens when the medical service provider is out of network.
Out of Network Medical Flights can Be Expensive
Take the case of 8-year-old Ben Millheim who met with an unfortunate accident fracturing his skull. The injury necessitated using a medical flight service to a hospital about 100 miles from the site of injury. While the boy survived and recovered well, his parents are still reeling under the $32,000 medical flight bill. Unfortunately for them, the medical flight service that they had used was out of their insurance network. As a result they are now liable to pay the service provider the ‘balance bill.’ In other words, they have to now shell out of their pockets the amount that their insurance provider has refused to pay the medical flight company for the reason that it does not come in their network.
It’s Almost Always a No-win Situation for Patients
Life-threatening injuries leave little room for checking whether a particular medical flight service provider is covered by the health insurance. While insurance companies flatly refuse to bear such expenses, it has been seen that air ambulance companies usually offer a discount to such patients. Plus, several states in the United States have passed legislation to limit balance billing; however, some states like Missouri have not. It must also be noted that there is no federal regulation that governs balance billing, leaving people vulnerable.
You’re starting your first job as a medical flight paramedic, and you’re wondering how you should prepare for it. Of course you’ve already had thorough medical training but that may not be enough to ensure that you can succeed in your journey. There are several rules that you should remember and follow.
Rule #1: Protect your crew members
When you’re working as an air ambulance paramedic, you’d be working with a crew that comprises of pilots and nurses or even a doctor. And there may be times when you have to carry out missions that could be dangerous for the crew. It’s crucial that you work together as a team and watch each other’s backs whenever you’re responding to a call.
Rule #2: Practice incident documentation and patient recording
Another crucial part of your job as a medical flight paramedic is to ensure that you properly document every incident you respond to. And you must carefully record details about your patient so that there’s a smooth transition from your care to that of hospital personnel. You can’t afford to slack off when it comes to this, as even a minor detail missing or incorrect could have serious consequences.
Rule #3: Medical flight paramedics should always be friendly
A smile can make a huge difference for the patients you’re attending to and their family members. It’s important that you try to maintain a certain level of friendliness whenever you’re on duty. And try to ensure that this friendliness extends to your colleagues and your crew members as well.
Rule #4: Do everything in your power to help your patient
Another important rule is to make sure that your patients are as comfortable as possible. Even if it’s not within your job description, you should do whatever you can to help your patients – whether they require more pillows or an extra blanket, for instance.
As an air ambulance provider, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your staff. This is particularly important for your medical flight paramedics, because there is a high possibility of them getting injured. We’ve even highlighted some of the causes of injury in two of our previous posts. So in this post, we’re going to discuss some of the ways in which you can improve workplace safety and prevent injury among your staff.
Enhancing Equipment Safety
The first thing you need to look at is your equipment. If you went through the previous posts, you would have seen that medical flight paramedics are commonly injured while lifting patients. So the best thing to do to prevent such injuries is to replace your traditional manual cots with powered patient transport equipment.
These will significantly reduce the physical strain on your paramedics. In turn, this will reduce the likelihood of experiencing injury. You could install assisted loading systems that will support the cot and make it easier for paramedics to load and unload patients onto the aircraft.
You should also equip your aircrafts with safety equipment that your paramedics can easily access when needed. This would include safety masks, gloves, and gowns to protect them from exposure to harmful substances.
Enhancing Medical Flight Safety
In addition to enhancing the safety of your equipment, you should also consider the safety of your aircraft. Whether you’re operating fixed-wing aircrafts or helicopters, you should do a thorough maintenance that will ensure optimum safety for your crew.
Have proper storage systems installed for your equipment, so that paramedics can easily access them when needed while at the same time preventing the equipment from exposure. And make sure you have a routine check of your engines and inbuilt flight equipment.
If you’re working as an air ambulance paramedic, you have to carry out physically straining tasks occasionally. Combined this with a more pedantic lifestyle when you’re off-duty or not on call, you could end up with different types of muscle pains and physical strain. One of the most common types of pains that medical flight paramedics can encounter is knee pain.
Find Out What Causes the Knee Pain
The first thing you need to do when you’re suffering from knee pain is to identify what is the root cause. If it wasn’t caused by physical trauma to the knee area, there’s a good chance you can prevent the issue from reoccurring. It’s easy to get pain in the knee due to a slight mistake in movement while stepping or climbing or even squatting.
In some cases, even if the pain is occurring in your knee the main cause of the problem may be at a completely different part of the body. So it’s important to get to the root of the issue if medical flight paramedics want to gain long-term relief from knee pain.
Knee Pain Solutions for Medical Flight Paramedics
Try stretching your legs by putting them on the table with your knee facing downwards. Your knee should be in line with your hip joint. If you can do this, it means everything is okay with the functionality of your glutes. The stretch might even help in relieving the pain on your knees to some extent.
You should invest in a good foam roller that you can use for 10 minutes every day. Use it on every part of your joints and muscles that are prone to pain such as your inner thigh, calves, hamstrings, and glutes. This not only decreases the pain but also loosens up the muscles to prevent further strain.
Last week, we discussed three common patient statements that should have you concerned. But those are not the only statements that you should be concerned about while you’re serving as a medical flight paramedic. There may be several other statements that sound simple enough but should be taken very seriously so that they don’t result in bigger problems.
When Medical Flight Paramedics Should be Concerned
Here are some more patient statements that you should be wary of and take seriously instead of just dismissing them:
- When a patient doesn’t want to go to a specific hospital – Every now and then you might come across a patient who does not want to be taken to a certain hospital and tells you so. There may be a good reason for this based on their past experiences. In some cases, it may be because they are dissatisfied with the level of care provided.
But in other cases, it may also be because the hospital has records or knowledge of the patient’s medical history, which the patient has been hiding from you. So make sure you ask the reason why they don’t want to go to a specific hospital.
- When a patient is dismissing their problem for a minor one – It’s important to pay close attention when a patient tries to dismiss the pain or problem they’re experiencing as a result of a minor issue. For example, the patient may explain that the discomfort in their chest is probably because of indigestion.
There’s a chance that the patient is in denial and is ignoring the signs of a major health issue. In this instance, it could be a sign of an oncoming heart attack. The patient may be looking to reassure themselves that it’s nothing serious. So it’s important for medical flight paramedics to assess patients more carefully when they’re dismissing their problem for a minor one.
When you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, you might have come across certain statements that make you pay extra attention to the patient. This is likely because you’ve encountered a patient whose condition immediately deteriorated after saying something similar. It may also be because your colleagues have had an experience with such patients.
These experiences may be able to teach you valuable lessons. Even the most subtle phrases and statements could be followed by horrible outcomes.
Statements of Concern for Medical Flight Paramedics
Take a look at some of these patient statements that should get you concerned:
- When a patient has “the worst headache of their life” – When someone is used to getting headaches, they’ll be familiar with the severity and duration of their typical headaches. So when a patient is claiming that their headache is far worse than usual, it’s a cause for concern for paramedics.
Otherwise, it could also be a statement by someone who normally doesn’t have a headache. Even if that’s the case, it could be that they’re experiencing something new and would be a cause for concern for medical flight
- When a patient “feels like they’re going to die” – While there may be instances where someone is being a bit dramatic when they say something like this, it’s always best not to take such statements for granted. Often injured or seriously ill people have some sense that they are going to decompensate, so it’s crucial that you pay attention and take immediate action.
- When a patient’s shoulder is hurting – Pain in the shoulder may be popularly used to describe chest pain and abdominal issues. The pain can be caused by heart conditions or respiratory ailments such as pneumonia and pleurisy. It could also be caused by illness or injury in the liver, gallbladder, spleen, etc.
When you’re working as a paramedic, accurate patient assessment is crucial so you can get them the care they need. But this can prove to be a challenge if the patient is deaf or hard of hearing. They may have a hard time understanding what you’re trying to say and may give you inaccurate responses. Find out what you need to do to better assess hard-of-hearing patients as a medical flight paramedic.
Understand the Variations and Changes in Communication Ability
When you’re trying to communicate with hard-of-hearing patients, it’s important to clearly understand that there can be variations in the severity of their hearing condition. There are some people who are unable to hear at all but may be able to speak clearly. At the same time, there are also people who can hear a bit but have difficulty in communicating.
It’s important to understand these variations to adjust your approach accordingly. It’s also crucial to understand how an illness or injury can impact the abilities of hard-of-hearing patients. Even if they’re excellent at lip-reading, the illness or injury may make it more difficult for them to read lips.
What Medical Flight Paramedics can do to Accommodate Hard-Of-Hearing Patients
As a medical flight paramedic, it’s crucial that you adjust the way you speak to patients who are hard of hearing. First of all, it’s important to speak clearly so the patient can understand you. Although you may feel compelled to speak louder or slower, this might not really help at times. You can try slowing down your speed or increasing your volume but with moderation.
Gestures can also help in communicating more effectively with hard-of-hearing patients. This can also work effectively in your communication with patients who have cognitive disabilities or do not speak English. And make the most of facial expressions to convey what you’re saying. For example, you could try raising your eyebrows to indicate a question.
Training to become an air ambulance paramedic won’t be all that easy. There are tons of challenges you have to overcome and new skills to pick up. And it’s especially more challenging if you have a job to hold down while you’re training to become a medical flight paramedic. Luckily for you, this post will provide you with the basics and best practices that can improve your chances of successfully completing your training.
Smart and Balanced Studying is Crucial
First of all, it’s crucial that you study smartly and in a balanced manner. Your brain needs to be fed consistently with the new information that you wish to retain instead of forcing yourself to remember the information. So instead of cramming right before your exam, it’s best if you consistently study a little bit every week.
It’s important that you thoroughly learn the contents of your medical flight paramedic training textbook. But instead of stressing yourself to remember everything, try to read the textbook with an intention to understand the information. You can also use learning techniques that are considered to be effective such as quizzes, flash cards, etc.
Additionally, you can also prepare yourself to analyze multiple-choice questions and answer them correctly. You may not always be able to recall the answer to every single question. So look through several mock tests to better understand a strategy to identify the correct answer.
Medical Flight Paramedics and the Need for Interpersonal Skills
Your knowledge in paramedics may be crucial to get through your written exams. But if you wish to succeed in the field, you will also need to enhance your interpersonal skills. This is crucial if you wish to avoid miscommunication between you and your patients. And you’ll also need it to make your patients feel more comfortable in your care.
Being a paramedic is a physically demanding job especially if you work for an air ambulance. You’ll have to regularly lift and move patients every time you respond to a call. And as a result of this, you’re at high risk of getting injured during this lifting and moving process. So as a medical flight paramedic, you need to take some helpful measures that will prevent these injuries and ensure you efficiently carry out your duties without any issues.
Preparing Your Body to Carry Out Your Medical Flight Paramedic Duties
As mentioned earlier, being a medical flight paramedic is a physically demanding job and involved plenty of activity and heavy lifting. At times, you may even have to perform some strenuous physical activity right after a state of rest. And as a result of this quick transition, your body may become strained and more susceptible to injuries.
That’s why you need to get involved in as many warm-up activities as possible before you respond to a call. You can start warming up at the start of your shift so you’re prepared to take on any physically-demanding task that comes your way. 20-30 minutes of warm-up would be perfect to get your body acquainted to the possible strain it needs to endure for the rest of your shift.
And you should also consider warming up after you’ve been inactive for a while. You can perform static stretching and simple cardiovascular exercises for your warm-up sessions. You can also use tennis balls and foam rollers to help stretch your stiff muscles and prepare it for strenuous physical activities.
In addition to this, you should regularly train to lift heavy objects. This will prepare your body to handle the task of lifting and moving patients of all sizes.
Accurately measuring the vitals of your patients is crucial when you’re working as a medical flight paramedic, an EMT, a nurse, or any medical professional for the matter. That means you’ll need to properly monitor and record the patient’s blood pressure. While it may be fairly easy for you, it’s important to remember that there are certain factors that could result in wrong BP readings.
Factors that Often Mislead Medical Flight Paramedics
By understand what could impact the BP reading on your equipment, you will be able to take precautions and make more accurate readings. Here are some of the reasons why your BP monitor could give you inaccurate readings:
- Incorrectly-sized cuffs – If the BP cuff on the monitor is too large, you’ll get readings that are much lower than the actual rate. And in case the cuff is too small, the BP readings will be a lot higher than the correct rate. Make sure the bladder length is 80% and width is 40% of the arm circumference.
- Incorrect positioning of patient’s body – How the patient’s body is positioned will also have a huge impact on the accuracy of your reading. Eliminate any influence of gravity to make sure you get a more accurate reading. The arm or leg you’re using for the reading should be placed at mid-heart level.
In addition to this, you need to make sure the patient isn’t talking while you’re taking the reading. And it would be ideal if you could take the reading when the patient is sitting with their legs uncrossed. In case of unconscious patients, taking a reading may be a bit more challenging for medical flight paramedics. But you can still follow the rules of proper positioning and correct cuff sizes to take accurate BP measurement.