Choose your ambulance service provider well
As if being involved in an accident or medical emergency is not bad enough, it is disconcerting to hear that the ambulance taking you or your loved one to a hospital or clinic for treatment may in fact, be causing you further physical or financial pain.
Our follow-up report in this edition about the dodgy state of the private ambulance sector is indeed, cause for alarm.
On a multitude of levels, patients’ lives are being placed at significant risk.
As an aside, complaints are often made about the level of service from the KZN Emergency Medical Rescue Services, and while it may be true that at times they are hindered by strikes, vehicle shortages or administrative woes, one thing is certain: the ambulance personnel who arrive on scene will be qualified and properly equipped.
Based on our interviews with experienced paramedics, the same cannot be said for the private ambulance sector – which appears to be poorly controlled and monitored, despite the necessary legislation being in place.
Ambulance service providers touting for business at taxi ranks is almost unimaginable, but apparently anything will be done to get medical aids to fork out for ‘patients’ who need to be transferred to a medical facility.
The financial cost of transfer is high, especially when the patient is labelled as critical and in need of the highest level of care and equipment en route to the hospital or clinic.
The medical aids invariably pick up the bill, whether or not the patient in fact, required the level of transfer stated by the doctor – or even if it was a nonexistent ‘ghost patient’.
Medical aid companies have got wise to the fraudulent activities taking place and have instituted legal action in some cases.
This has seen the number of private ambulances on our roads reduced greatly in recent times.
But other issues remain, the worst of which concern unqualified ambulance personnel and sub-standard ambulances and equipment.
The assumption is that the people in the ambulance, or those attending a concert or sporting event, are well qualified to handle any situation that may arise, these both in terms of their proficiency and the equipment they carry.
Insiders believe this is very seldom the case, and they urge those who appoint ambulance personnel for functions to look carefully at which service provider they choose.
An unqualified medic from a company that has no insurance or public liability cover, is an accident waiting to happen.