What are the Different Types of Medical Transport?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2016
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Also known as medical transportation, medical transport is any means of conveyance that is used to transport a patient to or between medical treatment facilities. The most common example of medical transport conveyance is the ambulance, a ground vehicle that is often used in emergency situations to rush an injured or ailing party to a hospital or other care facility. Transportation options may also include vehicles that are privately operated by nursing homes and assisted living facilities to transport residents to and from doctor appointments, as well as emergency air transportation that can be used to fly patients to medical facilities at a distance.

Among the various medical transportation services, the local ambulance service is the most common. Often privately operated, these local services are used for emergency medical transportation to the local hospital or other appropriate healthcare facility when the patient is not in a condition to be transported by some other means. An ambulance service is often employed for non-emergency medical transportation, such as moving a patient who is incapacitated from one medical facility to another. The ambulance service may more rarely be used to transport patients from a medical facility to a private home or a private clinic upon their discharge from the hospital.


Air medical transport has become more popular over the last few decades. Often, this type of medical transport is reserved for situations where there is a high degree of urgency. Sometimes referred to as an air ambulance, airplanes or helicopters are outfitted with all the life support equipment needed to keep the patient stable during the trip. It is not unusual for this type of medical transport to be used to move patients in need of specialized care from one hospital to another care facility with expertise in surgical or treatment options that are relevant to the patient.

Emergency airlift medical transport is also often employed as a means of moving military personnel from a war zone to a health care facility that is equipped to treat the type of injuries sustained by the individual. In like manner, air medical transport is often used by private citizens who become ill while visiting another country and who wish to return to their home country for treatment. There are air medical transportation services licensed to operate in just about any nation around the globe.

In terms of cost, most forms of medical transportation are covered in whole or in part by health insurance. In situations that involve medical emergencies or transports that are deemed necessary by a physician, the charges are more likely to be covered in full. However, individuals who choose to use private medical transport services when another means of conveyance would work just as well may find their health insurance provider will deny the claim, leaving the individual to pay the cost of medical transport out of his or her own pocket.


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