Medical helicopter viability studies

  • Medical helicopter actually benefit only a small number of patients.    Studies indicated that many EMS providers summon medical helicopters when the patient’s condition may not warrant their use.
  • Only 22.8% of study patients possibly benefited from helicopter transport. They further found that 33.5% of patients transported by helicopter were discharged from the emergency department and not admitted to the hospital; 85% of patients were considered to have minor injuries. Of the patients transported by helicopter in their study, 33% were discharged home from the emergency department and not admitted to the hospital.14
  • Injured children were considered over-triaged.15 A Boston study of 1,523 patients transported by helicopter found that 24% of patients transported from an accident scene were deemed inappropriate.16
  • When the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston discontinued its hospital-based air medical helicopter, they found that there was no decrease in transport time or increase in mortality for trauma patients at their facility.21
  • In a North Carolina study, researchers found that only a very small subset of patients transported by helicopter appeared to have any chance of improved survival based on their helicopter transport.23
  • In an eight-year Pennsylvania study of 3,048 penetrating-trauma victims, researchers found that patients transported by helicopter had longer transport times and no significant difference in mortality compared with
  • those transported by ground.26 Likewise, transport of patients with severe head injuries and burns do not appear to benefit from helicopter transport.27,28
  • Furthermore, these studies indicate that many EMS providers summon medical helicopters when the patient’s condition may not warrant their use.
  • Inter-facility transfers between hospitals. Could for the most part just as well been transferred by ambulance.
  • A factor often overlooked is helicopter safety.
  • Significant amount of financial resources are going into a transport modality that actually benefits few patients. These large sums of money would buy many AEDs and ground ambulances that would stand to benefit more of our citizenry. With a dwindling healthcare dollar, we will soon have to make some tough decisions.
  • There certainly is a role for helicopters in EMS, but we have them in the wrong places. The majority of the fleet is parked atop hospitals in urban centers where ground transport takes only minutes. They need to be positioned where they will benefit the people who need them the most–those who live in rural settings
  • Thus, there should be a strategically placed network of helicopters that serves rural hospitals and providers. However, as long as hospitals operate helicopters as “flying billboards,” this will probably never happen.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s