Too Many Heart Attack Victims Don't Call 911
WebMD News Archive
"Time is muscle," Meyerson says. "The longer you wait, the more
heart muscle dies."
Although the survey didn't ask people directly whether cost was a factor in
their decision to call 911, it was noted that in areas that had either
state-supported emergency medical services or a subscription service, the
service was used twice as often as in areas that didn't have it.
"Cost could be a part of it," says David E. Wilcox, MD, FACEP, a
spokesman for the American Academy of Emergency Medicine Physicians. He points
out that some managed care programs have denied coverage if it was later
learned that the person didn't have a serious problem.
To combat this, now at least 32 states have passed legislation to define
"emergency" based on a layperson's interpretation, and a federal bill
seeks to do the same. "If you have signs or symptoms that you interpret to
be a potential emergency, and you go to the ED to have it checked out, the
insurance company must pay for it," says Wilcox in an interview with WebMD.
Wilcox also is medical director of ConnectiCare and a practicing emergency room
physician at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.
It's important to get the "prudent layperson" definition of
emergency through the federal legislature, says Wilcox, because under the
Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA), large companies that are
self-funded do not fall under state law. So even though 32 states have passed
the statute, big companies that account for about 40% of all employees in the
country don't fall under it, he says.
"If you have a service that is free to you, [cost] is not a roadblock to
using it," says Wilcox.
For more from WebMD, read how to recognize an emergency.
- In a recent study, researchers found that less than a quarter of emergency
room patients with chest pain, a symptom of heart attack, used emergency
medical transportation, with some even driving themselves to the hospital.
- Among people who first called their doctors, emergency medical service use
was lower, which worries researchers who think these people may be lulled into
a false sense of security.
- The benefits of using emergency medical services is that treatment begins
upon arrival and the emergency department can be notified in advance, so care
on arrival to the hospital can be quicker.