After spending 40 years working as a paramedic on an ambulance, I realize choosing how to move your patient to the ambulance can sometimes be challenging. I know there are times when it is easy to ask your patient to walk to the ambulance but is it the right decision to make? I know there are times when it may be the only way to get the patient to agree to go to the hospital. Walking patients on a routine basis is filled with liability!
The safest place for our patients to be is on the stretcher with all the seatbelts fastened. We would never want our patients to suffer an injury or worsen their medical condition by walking to the ambulance. When allowing your patient to walk to the ambulance you need to perform a risk analysis to determine if its safe. You always want to guide and assist the patient to the ambulance while assessing their gait. A patient’s ability to ambulate and have a steady gait can be an important assessment of their condition. You want to position yourself in a way to protect the patient from injury during the transition. The distance you have a patient walk should be kept to a minimum.
Please remember when documenting you walked your patient to the ambulance it’s an immediate red flag to auditors as to the need for the ambulance. Your documentation should clearly indicate the precautions you took to prevent any harm from coming to the patient. It should also include an assessment of their gait.
In reviewing many charts, it appears providers walk patients to the ambulance and document it as such to demonstrate that the ambulance wasn’t needed, or the patient didn’t need to go to the hospital. It a lot of these cases the provider is allowing his/her opinion to influence the documentation rather than focus on the patients concerns and assessment.