LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — There is a growing trend of people turning to Uber or Lyft instead of ambulances to rush to emergency rooms to save money.

One expert warns that riders who need immediate medical attention are putting their lives in more danger.

“If you go to the wrong hospital because of self-transport or Uber or Lyft, that hospital will then call 911,” said Marc Eckstein, the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s medical director.

Then those riders are likely to be put in an ambulance anyway and taken to other hospitals that offer specific medical needs.

“That difference of 30 minutes or more could mean the difference between life and death,” Eckstein explained. “Because not only our EMTs and paramedics trained to stabilize and resuscitate them [patients] on scene, they also know what hospital to transport them to.”

Calling an ambulance can cost $100 and $1,700.

Uber issued this statement: “We’re grateful our service has helped people get to where they’re going when they need it most. However, 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.”

Comments (4)
  1. A doctor called an ambulance for me without my permission on a regular visit for a small stomach pain. The ride alone cost me $1,100, after insurance. The total cost was almost $2,000. Furthermore, the city (not L.A.) EMS has now filed an additional claim for almost $2,000 for ’emergency services’ of which the insurance has paid $800. No bill from them yet, nor do I understand why I’m charged twice. It is easy to say “call 911 always” but people’s inability to pay these outrageous EMS fees, or fear of going into deep debt trying to pay medical bills, trumps that, and it is something we as a country have to learn to see the truth about. By the way, in my case, there was nothing the hospital could find wrong with me after keeping me for a day; they gave me antacid, and I felt better. Total cost? Over $7,000. If I could do it all again, I would tell that doctor to cancel the ambulance, and call an Uber or Lyft.

  2. It’s amazing some of the things Uber drivers have done. Ridester has put together a great list of driver stories! Including one where a driver picked up a man who promptly passed out and his lips turned blue. The driver had the presence of mind to take him to the nearest hospital – and his life was saved.


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