Medevac Copters’ Usage Curtailed, Legislators Told

From JEMS.com

Maryland’s medevac program this year implemented changes designed to reduce unnecessary use of state police helicopters, a senior official told lawmakers in Annapolis this morning.

Patients who are within a 30-minute drive to a trauma center must now be transported by ambulance, unless there are “extenuating” circumstances, said Dr. Robert R. Bass, head of Maryland’s emergency medical response network.

He also said paramedics will no longer automatically send to trauma centers patients who have been involved in automobile roll-over accidents, high-speed crashes, vehicle extractions lasting longer than 20 minutes and other situations that were formerly believed to indicate a high likelihood of serious injury.

Bass, speaking to the Joint Committee on Health Care Delivery and Financing, was defending his agency’s performance in light of statistics showing that almost half of the patients flown by helicopter to Maryland trauma centers are released within 24 hours – suggesting many of them may not have needed the costly helicopter flight.

Sen. Grassley Keeps Pressure on Non-Profit Hospitals

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

Sen. Chuck Grassley is pounding on two non-profit hospitals demanding to know whether they restrict the care they give patients based on their ability to pay.

As ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, the Iowa senator has been bearing down on hospital tax breaks worth millions of dollars, saying he is concerned that non-profits are “losing sight of the public service that comes with tax-exempt status.”