Getting home from the hospital - question

I overheard a conversation between two acquaintances and didn’t want to butt in, but…one of them had a friend living on disability in the middle of nowhere. He had a medical emergency and was brought by ambulance to a hospital over 100 miles away. Treated, stayed there a couple of days.

Then he was released, and I mean, released - told he could go back home. He had no one to pick him up, so he paid a taxi to drive him back home. It cost over $450.

I was wondering, shouldn’t Medicaid or social services or…something have stepped in here? He somehow got the money to pay for it in cash, but is this typical? What if he didn’t have any money for a taxi?

Just curious.

Question: Did he make a real effort to explain his situation and get help from the social service people at the hospital? It seems to me that, even if they couldn’t provide any free transportation, they could have at least helped him find public transportation to the nearest point to his residence so that a cab would be much less.

I would have guessed the hospital could have arranged for a non-emergency medical transport van to come get him (the same companies that take people to and from doctor’s appointments). At least then he’d have a shot at getting his insurance to help out.

Like Jasmine said, I wonder if he spoke up or was released and he just walked out the front door.

I once found an elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair puttering down the side of the goddamned interstate. When I stopped to help her, she said she was coming from the hospital because she had no one to give her a ride. It was almost ninety degrees outside and she had several miles to go. Between the wheelchair battery and the old woman herself, I’d have to toss a coin to guess which would have died first.

So yeah, hospitals don’t care and they won’t lift a finger for something they can’t bill. Maybe a charity service would have offered a van or something. I know we aren’t supposed to be political in GQ, but if you wonder how people could be so cold-hearted just look at our election results.

they have hospital social workers who can work on these issues if you ask for help.

I have heard this, but is it true in all hospitals in all states?

I always thought they can’t just kick you out the door if you’re homeless, if you just gave birth, if you had an operation and no one to look after you. I’ve always heard the social services in the hospital can make some kind of provision for a patient’s followup care…even give a bus ticket or arrange for a visiting nurse. Something like Catholic Charities can help… But maybe in some states, there is very little.

Back in my hometown (Winnipeg, MB) - the hospital would pay a cab fare for people located within the city (not sure what they did for rural folks). I am mentioning it because they had to change the rules on how it was managed - an elderly person was dropped off at their residence (inner city) and the driver left. Unbeknownst to them, the person then tripped/fainted into a snowbank. By the time they were found, they had died from hypothermia (temps back home regularly drop below -30C with windchill).

Now drivers have to see the person INTO their home, not just to their home.

I was in a rehab facility for most of October. I was released on October 30. My insurance didn’t cover transportation back home. I didn’t have anybody available who could drive me. I had a Lyft driver take me home. Fortunately, I live less than 2½ miles away from the facility, so it wasn’t expensive. But yes, facilities often will show you the door and say, “good luck,” when your stay is over. Social services will try to help, but there’s little they can do if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

At the three or four hospitals at which I’ve had procedures (in California), they specifically state beforehand that you cannot go home in a taxi afterwards. You must have someone whom you know drive you home. I don’t know if they’d physically prevent someone from walking out without a driver present. I’ve always arranged for a friend or relative to drive me home, but on occasion it would have been much more convenient to take a taxi.

I have had to sign an after-procedure form for my husband’s elderly aunt, stating I would see her home and make arrangements for her care. The last thing she had done required a rehab stay afterwards. The rehab bus came and got her. I feel really sorry for people who have no one.
The OPs taxi story just pisses me off. The taxi driver should have been more helpful. That was dumb on his part. He could have called LEO or something, anything! Man, that’s makes me mad!

I’m from UHC-land and while a hospital will help arrange for transportation if needed, generally if the patient being released is considered to be in general good health they don’t ask if that kind of help is needed. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that “transportation assistance” isn’t part of the job description really.

Yes, generally this is because if you have anesthetics during your procedure, you can be temporarily impaired until the anesthetic leaves your system. It can affect your physical coordination or your sensory perceptions. However, as in the case of the OP, if you are admitted to the hospital and after a period of time are considered medically able to leave, they can tell you to get home the best way you can.

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Most hospitals have the ability to use something similar to Tavern Taxi, where they can give you a certificate to have a cab take you home. It cost the patient nothing, the cab just accepts the certificate and turns it in at the end of the night.
I’ve had to use this service twice myself and never did I pay for a taxi. You DO have to ask for it though. No one offered it to me, I had to ask.

Similar to that, Uber has a service called Uber Health, which can be used by hospitals and clinics to get patients to and from appointments. The hospital or clinic pays, but perhaps it’s worth it to make sure the patient can get to the appointment?

Thanks for information about UberHealth i have serious problems with transportation to and from appointments and such.

I will certainly see if my providers are willing to try this

Thanks again!

My husband recently had surgery at a surgery center & I had to bring him in (no drop offs) & give them my drivers license, then sign a form saying I’d pick him up & get him home safely. He was not allowed to take a taxi or uber home. Not sure why this is their policy, but guessing there must be some liability in their not ensuring you got home safely.

Same for me, no taxi/uber–my ride had to sign in and show DL at drop-off and pickup (for an outpatient procedure).

Here in the UK, they would at least check whether someone’s fully ready to go home. Here too you’re expected to have someone to go with you if you’ve had a general anaesthetic - even for an outpatient thing like an endoscopy ( and they’d check before giving you the anaesthetic). For longer-term stays, and particularly the frail and elderly there are patient transport services where a taxi or ordinary public transport wouldn’t be good enough. No doubt the consent to treatment forms cover the legalities.

It becomes problematic when there are longer-term issues about whether an older person can manage at home once discharged, because it’s on the organisational boundary between medical (NHS) care and non-medical local social services. The co-ordination and handover often isn’t that smooth, and “delayed discharges” can be quite a cost to the NHS (they used to call it “bed-blocking” till it was argued that that was blaming the victim). They don’t just dump people once the presenting medical issue is dealt with - but whether they might too readily accept someone’s “I can manage, thanks” is another question.