$32K Lifeflight ride

Nurses General Nursing


I'm just so amazed. We received a patient this weekend who was on a cruise off the coast of Mexico...she had not yet been off the boat. She developed severe GI bleeding. She had herself LIFEFLIGHTED from a Mexico hospital to our suburban, community hospital in PITTSBURGH. $32,000 flight!!! YEESH! She has to take out a mortgage to pay for this. What the heck was she thinking?! Doncha you think you would maybe fly to HOUSTON, get yourself stabilized and then come home?! Or, if you just HAD to come home, wouldn't you fly yourself to a TERTIARY hospital?!

She was bleeding pretty badly both ends. She wasn't my patient so I don't have all the details. I know a scope showed a Mallory-Weiss tear but that could have been from the vomiting itself. She is recovering nicely though.


564 Posts

That's a heckuva ride! I wouldn't have wanted to be the RN or Paramedic riding with that woman. We would have set down at the nearest reliable hospital (Herman Hospital in Houston), and she would have received the EMERGENCY care she needed. A woman bleeding from both ends is a ticking time bomb. Who would've typed and crossed her and provided blood that far up in the air? This was not a Lifeflight, it was an air taxi, with the patient calling the shots!


1,326 Posts

Wow!! I hope she is a billionaire!

I can't criticize her for wanting to leave a Mexican hospital but I wonder, and perhaps you experienced nurses can anwer this, is it really a patients right have a say in where they can be taken when it is an emergency situation and their choice of facility (Pittsburgh) is so far away from a "reasonable" facility (Houston)?

Who makes that decision?

I mean, legally and ethically, if her condition worsened while on the flight to Pittsburgh aren't there serious consequences for the medical team?

Can this type of situation be jaded by money? If the helicopter service was a private one do you think they just wanted the money and took her all the way to Pittsburgh? Or, is it possible that if the helicopter company was worried about being paid they would have denied her the flight to Pittsburgh and taken her to Houston instead?

Sorry to offer this very sinical point of view but a few months ago there was an interesting article about a young boy who was in a very serious accident (was playing and fell into a plate glass window) and a private helicopter co. had the option of taking him to two different hospitals, one close - the other a few minutes further away. The company was affiliated with the hospital that was farther away and they took the child there. Ended up that the child died by only a few minutes. Raised many questions but was discreetly covered up as I have not heard much about it at all.

Let me know what you think,



951 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

I don't know the details; I can only assume it was a private company. I'd think any sane emergency medical team would say hey, you going to the closest hospital in the USA. Herman Hospital is actually the one I was thinking of. Just amazing.

prn nurse

208 Posts

Read the credit card small print.....don't you think she knew she was insured ? Insurance pays.


1,326 Posts

Yeah, insurance might pay for it or part of it but can you imagine the fight that she will probably have to go through just to get them to cover it?

I mean, my mom had to have an emergency appendectomy while we were on vacation and it took her months to get the insurance company to cover even a penny of it. They said they had doubts that it was a "true emergency - life threatening" and that she should have called it in before she went to the hospital even though it happened on a Sunday and there is no one you can talk to on the weekends.

There goes the pessimestic view again..............................


951 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

I can't believe insurance will pay for a trip from Mexico to Pittsburgh. Mexico to a closer city, yes. But if it is life-threatening, don't travel 2000 miles to find a hospital. I'm sure the insurance will pay SOME of it but not a major portion.

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