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Some People Are Opting To Take Ubers or Lyft Rides Instead of An Ambulance to the Emergency Room

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: A ambulance leaves as another one arrives at the Accident and Emergency department of the Bristol Royal Infirmary on January 10, 2017 in Bristol, England. According to documents leaked to the BBC record numbers of patients are facing long waits in A&Es and that nearly a quarter of all patients waited longer than the four hour target set in 2004. The figures come after the British Red Cross claimed the NHS was facing a "humanitarian crisis" this winter. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Hospitals see millions of patients come and go in their emergency rooms.

However, not all people who need urgent medical care are willing to call for an ambulance. Besides getting rides from friends or family, many are choosing to use Uber or Lyft during an emergency.

Several drivers for Uber and Lyft can attest to picking up passengers who are in need of medical care. Uber drivers even have an online chatroom where they share stories of passengers who get in their cars and have bleeding cuts, asthma, anaphylaxis and broken bones.

Choosing to use a ride-share service is becoming more popular because it’s a lot cheaper than getting an ambulance to take you to the nearest hospital. An ambulance ride to a hospital can cost up to $600 to $1000, and it’s a bill you get at least month down the line. With a ride-share service, riders are able to choose the hospital they want to go to instead of just being taken to the one that’s closer.

Of course when a person is in need of emergency medical attention, there are risks to hailing a ride. Some drivers may not be comfortable picking up an ailing passenger because they either don’t want to get blood in their car or don’t want to be held liable for the passenger’s health.

A driver who works for Uber and Lyft in the Boston area, told STAT News about a time he had to turn a group of people away. Not wanting to give his name, he said, “The women tell me their friend is not feeling well, and they want me to take them to the emergency room. I told them no and to just call 911. I have to respect the rules of the road; I can’t speed like an ambulance. And there’s definitely a liability thing. If anything happened to the guy, it’s definitely on me and the insurance I have to carry.”

In an email to STAT News, Uber spokesperson, Brooke Anderson, said,

“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.”

If you look at how people got around before Uber and Lyft were in existence, taking taxi cabs to the hospital was pretty popular. We’ve all heard stories of a woman who’s in labor using a cab to get to the hospital so she can give birth.

During the summer of 2016, city officials in Washington, D.C. began studying the use of ride-hailing to respond to “non-emergency, low-acuity” calls. They made up half of the city’s 911 calls in 2015.

“In our research, we found that many of these calls did not require an ambulance,” said District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department spokesperson Doug Buchanan.

Buchanan also said he prefers people to use ride-hailing services instead of ambulances.

“We would love our residents to take that initiative,” he said.

Even though doctors don’t mind people taking Uber or Lyft to the emergency room, they do feel it’s best to get an ambulance if you require medical attention on the way to the hospital.