Verdict - Spring 2014 - (Page 18)

feature Who Is Driving the Van? A Look at Non-Emergency Medical Transport Accidents N on-emergency medical transport (NEMT) accidents involve a variety of unusual elements - including the broker relationship, state regulations and policies, and the special needs of many of the patients being transported. If you are representing a client (or the family of a client) hurt or killed in such an accident, you need to understand the law, industry, company or companies, and the driver responsible for the accident. BY AARON MARKS 18 NEMT companies provide transportation for disabled people, seniors, and others who need assistance getting to and from their medical providers. While volunteer groups offer some transit assistance, most NEMT is provided by private, for-profit companies. Depending on the patient's needs, NEMT vehicles may be equipped to transport individuals who require stretchers or wheelchairs. Because these patients do not need emergency transportation, they do not need the special equipment (or high cost) associated with an ambulance. However, these patients are often medically fragile, unable to use other transportation options, or will undergo such intensive medical treatment as to make self-transportation, taxis, or public transit, unsafe. There are literally millions of NEMT trips each year. In Georgia, with an increasing population of older residents and little public transit (outside of metro Atlanta), the use of NEMT continues to grow. Unfortunately, state law provides little in the way of safety regulation. Some companies employ drivers who are not properly trained and supervised and, as a result, vulnerable patients become injured by the very people who are supposed to be helping them get the medical attention they need. In 1974, a federal court held that the state of Texas was required to provide transportation for Medicaid recipients so that they could obtain necessary medical treatment (Smith v. Vowell, 379 F. Supp. 139 (W.D. Tex. 1974)). Today, Medicaid recipients in all states, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association including Georgia, are entitled to non-emergency medical transport services when they have no other means to obtain treatment. In 2012, there were over three and a half million NEMT trips made in Georgia just for Medicaid recipients.1 Many Medicare Advantage plans cover non-emergency transport.2 Transportation may also be a covered expense through some Flexible Spending Accounts and private insurance policies. 3 According to a study by the Transit Cooperative Research Board, providing needed medical transportation to patients can actually lower healthcare costs by ensuring patients access to preventative and chronic medical care.4 However, the combination of insufficient regulation, poor supervision, and lax training can be harmful to patients. In addition to typical automobile accidents, patients being transported for medical care can suffer injuries when drivers or attendants: *  improperly secure patients in wheelchairs or stretchers; * leave patients in vehicles for long periods of time in heat or cold; *  to properly use chair lifts, or; fail *  drop patients during loading or unloading. Non-Emergency Medical Transport is Big Business Today, NEMT is a big business. Nationally, there are more than 41 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid (before the current Medicaid expansion) and Medicaid spends approximately 1 percent of its budget, or $1 to

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2014

President’s Message
What’s New at HQ
From Celebration to Coma the Story of Gangs, Violence, and a $35 Million Verdict
2014 Legislative Report
Who Is Driving the Van? a Look at Non-Emergency Medical Transport Accidents
Professional Practice Pointers
Civil Justice Pac Legislative Reception in Photos
Dram Shop Litigation: Think Twice Before Pouring That Next Drink
The Fiery and Predictable Consequences of Rear-Mounted Fuel Tanks
Notes: What’s New With GTLA Members
Book Review
GTLA Out & About in Photos
Case Updates: What’s New?
Workers’ Comp: Recent Developments
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Champion Members
Index to Advertisers/

Verdict - Spring 2014