One of the main concerns after a serious injury is getting a victim to a hospital for medical treatment as soon as possible. For most people, that means calling an ambulance to be brought to a nearby hospital. But for people who live in high traffic areas or who experience an injury more than 30 minutes away from a hospital, a helicopter may be a better option for both speed and safety.
A new study evaluated whether or not there was a significant difference for patients who were transported to the hospital by air versus those transported by ground. After controlling for factors such as age and injury severity, researchers found that those taken in a helicopter had a slightly higher survival rate than those taken by an ambulance. The difference was about one to two percent. One factor that researchers pointed to was the risk of getting in a car accident in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
In fact, car accidents are a leading cause of injury among transported patients. However, helicopters are more costly than ambulances and may not be a feasible alternative for all patients. The difference may be a result of a variety of factors, but that it was likely a combination of the speed of the transportation and the medical team on the chopper, along with the decreased risk of a secondary injury from a crash. Patients who are injured on their way to the hospital by the negligence of a nearby driver may be able to recover for those injuries.
Source: Reuters, "Trauma patients taken by chopper may fare better," Andrew M. Seaman, April 17, 2012.