Uber to the E.R.:  cheap and fast, but is it safe?

You’d take an Uber or Lyft for a night on the town or ride to the airport, but we’ve found that many people, around the country, including the Miami Valley, are using these ride share services to get to the emergency room.

“When I picked her up all she could say was ‘take me to the emergency room.”

“He said ‘it’s an emergency. Can you go fast? Can you go fast?”

“She was pregnant actually and was going to deliver and it’s faster for her to call an Uber.”

The words of several Uber drivers in interviews with our sister station WFXT in Boston.

Riders who have taken an Uber to the hospital said speed and cost were more important than care when they needed medical attention.

“I’d rather spend $10, $15, $20, or $30 bucks than $200 to $300 for a copay for an ambulance,” said John Gregorio.

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Where Uber is available in the United States, ambulance usage is dropping by as much as 7 percent, according to a research paper co-authored by University of Kansas economics professor David Slusky and Scripps Mercy Hospital-San Diego internist Leon Moskatel.

“It is true it is going to be less expensive a ride, but then again there’s the other side of the coin.  What risk were you taking to save some money,” said Mark Senseman, president of the Greater Miami Valley EMS Council.

He urges caution because if your condition worsens, Uber driver won’t be able to offer medical assistance.

“If you get stuck in traffic or something like that happens, there’s no one there that can take care of you,” Senseman said, “If you think your emergency is bad then call the ambulance because whatever it turns out to be you have all the expertise available to handle the circumstances.”

Uber issued this statement about using its ride-sharing services to get to the E.R.:

“We’re grateful our service has helped people get to where they’re going when they need it most. However, it’s important to note that Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals.

In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911.”


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