I'll start off with a story that is mostly rant, but does have a question at the end of it. Recently our ER treated a 30-something pt who fell at home around 8am (per her account). Arrived at the ER via ambulance with a friend, who also took the ambulace, at 11am. CC of twisted ankle. Before anything else, she asks for a sandwich and ginger ale for herself and for her friend, saying "well, we didn't have a chance to eat breakfast before we came it." (my guess is somewhere in those 3 hrs they could have had a bowl of cereal) Anyway, the nurse (not me) tells the pt "no" (in a polite way). After xrays, pt dx with sprained ankle and given airsplint/crutches. On discharge, pt tells the nurse "well, I came by ambulace and you have to find me a way home." When told about taking the bus if no one could pick them up, the friend said "we don't have no money for the bus." (Meanwhile, when they were told they would no be given food, the friend went to the cafeteria and bought a large amount of food for the two of them). The nurse got the case manager involved. Pt tells the CM "the nurses here really have to work on their bedside manner." Not sure what was arranged for this pt, but this was my rant on the situation (thanks for reading!).
Anyway, now to the question: within the last year, our ER has posted signs that basically say that we are not responsible for providing you with transportation home. We had a supply of bus tickets, now that they are gone, they are no more. Obviously we would arrange transportation in extreme situation or if a pt is incapable of getting back home/to LTC/etc. The problem is, if people come by ambulance (even for a sore throat) they think that it is our obligation to find them a ride home. When I started in the ER we gave out bus passes like crazy, so many people think we still do this. Plus, I'm sure 'word on the street' is that we give rides home ("my aunt was here last year and she got a bus pass...I came by ambulace, I should get one too"). Does your hosptial have any written policy on arranging transportation home?