North Carolina Policyholders: Notice to policyholders recently affected by severe weather. 

Create Policies and Procedures to Safely Transport Patients

Uber and Lyft recently started a healthcare division that is separate from their ride-sharing services because it focuses on reducing healthcare no-shows and offering rides after appointments.

Uber and Lyft recently started a healthcare division that is separate from their ride-sharing services because it focuses on reducing healthcare no-shows and offering rides after appointments. 

Rides are scheduled by the healthcare provider through a specific platform. The Uber and Lyft press releases note these services are HIPAA-compliant. 

The recent hype about healthcare transportation highlights the need for a practice to have a safe transportation policy for releasing patients after care. Safe transportation policies are generally associated with practices that use sedation. However, most practitioners will find they come in handy for various situations. Remember, it is better to have a policy in place before you need it rather than when an unexpected situation occurs. 

Although the policy is to safeguard patients after care, it also sets consistent protocols for your staff. For example, it would not be unusual for patients to ask why they couldn’t leave your practice unattended. 

It is beneficial to have a written document to augment your verbal explanation to the patient. The written document can be provided before treatment and documented in the patient’s chart.

 Components of a safe transportation policy include:

  • Before leaving the office: 
    • The patient
      • Must be awake, mentally alert, responsive, and oriented as to person, place and time
      • Must exhibit airway reflexes are present
      • Must be ambulatory
      • Vital signs (including blood pressure) must be stable 
      • Must have no nausea or vomiting
      • Bleeding must be controlled
      • Must be well-hydrated 
    • The patient and the family/caregiver must receive writtenand verbalpost-operative instructions for care, emergency contact information and follow-up care
      • Confirm/document whether (if necessary/recommended) home care will be available to monitor the patient
    • The patient and family/caregiver must receive any prescriptions for post-operative medications and written and oral instructions for use (both are documented)
    • Transportation must be confirmed and available with a responsible escort (adult and no public transportation—although Uber and Lyft could be exceptions). The staff should never drive the patient home.
      • The identity of the responsible escort (adult) is documented in the patient’s record
        • For your consideration: some practices require the escort to remain at the practice during the entire visit (from start to finish)
        • For your consideration: some practices require the escort to sign a form confirming they will be driving the patient home after the procedure
    • The time and condition of the patient at discharge should be noted in the patient’s records
      • Documentation should confirm the patient has achieved your predetermined discharge criteria

As with all policies, be sure it is dated so you know when it became effective. Have your staff sign the policy, acknowledging they read and understood it. 

For risk management guidance about this topic, use our claims advice hotline.

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