La. EMS reports more people refusing transport

Acadian Ambulance officials reported an 18% increase in patients refusing transport against the advice of medics


Adam Daigle
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

LAFAYETTE, La. — More people are refusing ambulance transports to hospitals for needed care out of fear of the being infected with the coronavirus, Acadian Ambulance officials said.

Company officials reported Thursday morning that medics are reporting that people are disregarding the advice of medical personnel in their decision not to go to a hospital, which results in those who require a higher level of care putting their health or their lives at risk.

Acadian Ambulance reported an 18% increase in patients refusing transport against the advice of medics. (Photo/Acadian Ambulance)
Acadian Ambulance reported an 18% increase in patients refusing transport against the advice of medics. (Photo/Acadian Ambulance)

The fear is understandable, said Dr. Charles Burnell, Acadian’s chief medical officer, but based on the limited information people are exposed to from national news outlets. Hospitals have gone to extreme measures to keep their facilities safe.

“We’ve seen a higher number of responses without transports, and I'm fearful that patients don’t understand that they are putting themselves at greater risk by not allowing us to bring them to hospitals when their conditions require transport and emergency department evaluation,” Burnell said. “Often, we are called back to patients’ residences when they become sicker and their conditions deteriorate.”

Hospitals are taking extreme precautions to disinfect as well as segregate potential and confirmed COVID-19 patients from any contact with other patients or persons entering the facility and emergency rooms, Acadian officials said. Procedures range from using different facility entrances to advanced equipment and facility cleaning and disinfection.

Hospitals such as Lafayette General and Our Lady Of Lourdes have safety protocols in place, said Elisabeth Arnold, AVP of marketing and corporate communication at Our Lady of Lourdes. Visitation and campus activities have been limited, and environmental teams have worked to clean high-touch surface areas.

At Lafayette General, staff have enacted similar safeguards.

“We want to assure patients that we are taking every reasonable precaution to protect them at our facilities, and a health care setting is far safer than any location where attendees are not social distancing or wearing masks,” said LGH president David Callecod. “We continue screening and masking all patients, employees and visitors. We have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting all public spaces and we are still limiting access to our facilities in order to reduce the risk of infection. We stress that patients should not ignore symptoms because delaying care could turn into something far worse.”

Acadian has reported an 18% increase in people refusing to transport after medics have advised them to do so, said chairman and CEO Richard Zuschlag. Paramedics, Burnell noted, are highly trained personnel dedicated to the health and well-being of a patient.

“By refusing, many of our patients are putting themselves at much greater risk for health complications or poor outcomes,” Zuschlag said. “Every day, I hear from our medics who are scared for their patients who are refusing much-needed care for concern of contracting COVID-19 at hospitals. They don’t understand that the risk of not seeking care is much greater than the risk of contracting the virus."

The numbers of patients hospitalized for Covid-19 in Louisiana has been declining from its high of 2,134 on April 13. On Thursday, the number of hospitalizatins dropped below 1,000 for the first time since March 28.

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©2020 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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