MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota. According to the Atlantic, Uber is launching a new product in its ride sharing service arsenal that will allow doctors and hospitals to schedule rides for their patients. The rides can take patients home after medical treatment or schedule pick-ups for patients going to an appointment or to necessary medical care. Doctors will be able to use the application, meaning that patients don’t need a smartphone and don’t need Uber installed on their phone to use the service.
Proponents of the ride-sharing service claim that it will help people make their doctor’s appointments. According to the Atlantic, missed doctor’s appointments cost doctors and hospitals an estimated $150 billion each year. The new plan has the opportunity to result in high profits for Uber because hospitals and doctors will pay for their patient’s rides.
Yet, does the ride sharing service come with risks? Driving patients to and from doctor’s offices brings its own concerns for liability and personal injury law. The service is designed to accommodate patients who don’t have urgent care needs. But what happens if a person calls the service when they are having a heart attack or other medical crisis? Patients that would be best served by an ambulance and medical staff might find themselves being driven by a person with no medical training or first aid experience. Ambulances can turn on their sirens in an emergency. Uber’s health care rides won’t be able to speed through red lights.
Drivers may not be medically trained, so it isn’t clear what they can do if a passenger experiences a medical crisis on-route to a hospital or doctor’s appointment. When doctors call a car service for their patients, the doctors may be liable if they misjudge the patient’s medical needs. If they call and Uber instead of an ambulance and the patient becomes seriously ill or dies on-route, the doctor may be liable for the injuries or losses the patient suffers.
Uber drivers are instructed to call 911 in the event of an emergency. But it is one thing to seek medical urgent care at a fixed address and another thing to seek urgent care in the middle of rush hour traffic or a highway. According to How Stuff Works, emergency room doctors and nurses are skilled in triaging new patients. Patients are broken into groups, with life-threatening cases receiving immediate care and urgent cases being next in line. However, if a doctor is just speaking to a patient over the phone and isn’t thinking of the case in terms of triage, important issues might be missed.
At the end of the day, the new ride hailing service might make it possible for more patients to make their doctor’s appointments. However, the service comes with risks and liabilities. If you or a loved one was injured due to a car accident or due to a misdiagnosis, you may have certain rights under the law. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino is a personal injury lawyer in Minneapolis, Minnesota who works with victims and families to help them seek a recovery after a crash. You may only have a limited amount of time to seek damages after an accident. Visit our firm at https://www.martinmontilino.com/ to learn more.