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Emergency. 1989 Nov;21(11):39-43.

Counting the cost.

Abstract

The air medical industry has seen dramatic changes in the 1980s, and there will be still more changes in the years to come. But are hospital-based air medical programs cost-effective? That depends on who is answering the question. An air medical program with a specially trained team can improve the quality of medical care to critically ill or injured patients. If you ask a patient whose life was saved by the program if it is cost-effective, the answer will undoubtedly be "yes." The specialized life support provided by the skilled flight crew and rapid transport by the helicopter does make a difference. But what is the cost-effectiveness of saving a life? There is a dramatic impact upon the individual and society as a whole. Increasing the survivability of a critically ill or injured patient who may return to gainful employment may reduce the overall cost to the patient and to society by avoiding a lifetime of disability and welfare. An air medical program may also be cost-effective by extending a regional tertiary care center's capabilities to a larger geographic area. This decreases the need to duplicate expensive trauma centers, burn centers, high-risk perinatal units and neonatal intensive care units. Finally, an air medical program can also decrease the number of ground ambulances needed for long-distance patient transports both in highly populated urban or rural areas. This will free more ambulances for local coverage. To the sponsoring hospital, the costs of operating an air medical program are high.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

PMID:
10295824
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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