What is Non-Emergency Medical Transportation?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Non-emergency medical transportation is a form of medical transportation which is provided in non-emergency situations to people who require special medical attention. Ambulances, helicopters, and other emergency transport vehicles may be used in non-emergency medical transport, but the goal of the transport is to get the patient from one location to another while offering medical support, rather than to offer field treatment and rapid transport to an emergency facility. Some hospitals and other facilities offer non-emergency medical transportation as part of their services, and this service is also available through specialty companies.

A helicopter may be used in non-emergency medical transport.
A helicopter may be used in non-emergency medical transport.

A candidate for non-emergency medical transportation is medically stable, but still in need of medical support. For example, a resident of a nursing home who had just spent some time in the hospital might need non-emergency medical transport to get back to the nursing home so that nurses or paramedics could monitor the patient's condition and deal with any medical equipment associated with the patient. Likewise, a chronically ill patient might need medical transport to get to doctor's appointments.

Terminally ill patients may require medical transport to get to doctor's appointments.
Terminally ill patients may require medical transport to get to doctor's appointments.

Hospitals sometimes use non-emergency transport to transfer patients, as in the case of a surgical candidate who switches hospitals to work with a specific surgeon or to take advantage of special facilities. In these cases, the patients may need to be monitored, but their cases are not urgent, so they are good candidates for non-emergency medical transportation. Patients may also be moved from an urgent care facility to a more general medical facility via non-emergency medical transport to make room for emergency cases.

During a non-emergency medical transport, a patient is accompanied by at least one paramedic.
During a non-emergency medical transport, a patient is accompanied by at least one paramedic.

In this type of medical transport, the patient is transported on a gurney or in a wheelchair, and he or she is accompanied by at least one paramedic or nurse. The transportation vehicle has medical equipment in the event that it is needed, and this equipment can also be used to monitor the patient during the trip. The transport also includes accommodations for equipment which may be in use by the patient, such as bags of intravenous fluids, colostomy bags, and other medical equipment.

Hospitals may use non-emergency transport to transfer patients.
Hospitals may use non-emergency transport to transfer patients.

The bill for non-emergency medical transportation tends to be significantly lower than that for emergency transportation. This is because the crew of the transportation vehicle are not engaging in medical interventions to save the patient's life during the trip, and because the trip is much safer, since the driver or pilot does not need to speed to a medical facility. The ability to schedule the trip also cuts down on costs, since it can be scheduled for a regular working shift, without the need to request overtime or odd working hours from transportation crews.

An ambulance may be used to transfer a patient between hospitals.
An ambulance may be used to transfer a patient between hospitals.
Gurneys are typically used to transport patients in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
Gurneys are typically used to transport patients in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon170623

Thanks for the information. I found it very useful for my research paper. Very good description on what is non-emergency medical transportation and who uses the service.

anon105362

Accidentally stumbled onto your website. Great resource with excellent information! We love it.

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