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In everyday language, the paramedic services and patient transport services are the same, although they are different entities with differing purposes and enlistment. 


In Hungary, the paramedic service is a form of emergency medical care which is available for everyone regardless of nationality or social security coverage.


The patient transport service is a form of medical service that ensures patients’ access to medical care, if neccessary. The service is accessible to people with social security coverage and it can be prescribed by physicians.


Paramedic services

Paramedic services provide emergency medical care for critically ill patients. This includes providing treatment and stabilization onsite and during transfer for those who need urgent medical care, or when transferring the patient from one facility to the nearest point of care for definitive treatment.


Depending on the grade of urgency, the paramedic services can either be an immediate service, a service within 2 hours or a service over 2 hours for people with serious illnesses who need standby emergency medical care.


Critically ill patients who need immediate medical care are transferred to the nearest available health care facility appropriate for ensuring emergency medical care.


The health care facility has to offer immediate medical care for the critically ill. Other patients have to be taken over from the paramedic unit within 10 minutes or a decision has to be made within 15 minutes on further transfer of the patients.


Anyone can call the paramedic services

If you need emergency medical care, call 112 and ask for the paramedics!


Immediate medical care is needed in the following situations:


  • personal injuries caused by accidents;
  • in case of or suspecting a life-threatening situation;
  • having acute or alarming symptoms that may lead to persistent damage to health or prolonged recovery without getting immediate medical attention;
  • in obstetrics-related events (e.g. giving birth or complication during pregnancy);
  • if immediate medical treatment is needed to alleviate unappeasable pain or other acute symptoms;
  • acute confusion, including confusion caused by alcohol intoxication;
  • in other threatening situations.


In the abovementioned situations, anyone is eligible to call the paramedic services, regardless of nationality or social security coverage.


Paramedic care initiated by the doctor

Paramedic care can also be initiated by physicians. Transportation by paramedics is necessary, when the patient’s condition requires an emergency medical technician so that the patient can get immediate care if a problem occurs during the transfer. 


When the doctor initiates the transport by the paramedics, the doctor has to provide emergency medical care until the paramedic unit arrives.


Special paramedic services

The following scenarios also necessitate paramedic care:


  • transportation of doctors or workgroups providing life-saving interventions (e.g., transplantation);
  • emergency transportation of life-saving medical tools, medications or donor organs;
  • standby paramedic service for accidents and catastrophes for securing the scene and eliminating the danger;
  • medical standby services supporting events (at a specific scene and at a determined time, with a medical service fee);
  • medical standby services (with a medical service fee) at sites that are predisposed to pose and increased danger for the employees (building or engineering sites);
  • observing or transporting patients with acute alcohol intoxication to a medical care facility. Observation might last until the end of detoxication, utmost 24 hours.


Paramedic care can be provided by:


  • ambulance – a vehicle with a paramedic (trained) nurse and an ambulance driver with a legally determined set of medical equipment.
  • paramedic squad – which has a better-armed medical staff and medical equipment. Beside the driver and the paramedic nurse, a paramedic or a doctor is also part of the team.
  • special paramedic units – consist of special medical equipment and staff, depending on their tasks (air medical services, emergency medical services for children and preterm babies, etc.)


Patient transportation

The purpose of patient transport is to ensure medical care when it is otherwise not accessible, when the patient does not require medical care during the transport.


The patient transport is coordinated by the National Rescue Services (Országos Mentőszolgálat, OMSZ) based on a legal contract with a transporting service.  


The patients are entitled for transport, if they:


  • need a transport, but their condition does not require paramedic service;
  • can be transported only in certain positions;
  • handicapped, disabled for walking or using public transportation, or other means of transportation is impossible for them because of their medical condition;
  • cannot use the means of public transportation for infective reasons or because of pathologic demeanor;
  • if the absence or delay of the means of public or other transportation or any other factor would result in the delay of medical care or treatment;
  • if the patient after being discharged from a health care facility cannot get to their home or place of residency otherwise on the day of discharge or within a reasonable timeframe.


The transports can also be indicated for special treatments (set out in legislation), such as dialysis, radio- or chemotherapy, and because of the treatment’s dates, regularity and length the patients’ homecoming is otherwise not feasible, or if using other means of transportation would be too overwhelming for the patient because of the abovementioned treatments’ aftermath.


When ordering a patient transfer, different types of urgency can be signed:


  • transfer within 6 hours,
  • transfer within 24 hours,
  • transfer ordered for a specific time,
  • or regular transfers at specific times.


It is important to indicate which type of transfer is ordered, if the transfer is in a seated or in lying position, if accompanying staff is needed or if the patient can be transferred alone or together with other patients.


Transfer in a seated position

The driver only has basic first aid skills and is not qualified for specific treatments.


Patients complying with the following criteria can be transported in a seated position:


  • conscious patients;
  • with the ability to walk with help (even on stairs);
  • state of health does not necessitate transfer in a lying position;
  • above the age of 14, or if below that, accompanied by their legal guardian.


Transfer in a lying position

During transfer in a lying position, beside the driver, accompanying staff is also present. The transfer squad bears with basic first aid skills, but they are not qualified for specific treatments. The accompanying staff has a role in the moving of the patient.


Patients complying with the following criteria can be transported in a lying position:


  • whose observation is not necessary during transfer;
  • whose can only move with the help of the accompanying staff;
  • above the age of 14, or below that, if accompanied by their legal guardian.


Paid patient transfer services

Patient transfer indicated by a doctor is free of charge. However, if in need, anyone can apply for a paid patient transfer service. If the patient service is not indicated by the doctor, the patient transfer service has to inform the patient about the potential expenses.


Click here for the list of the patient transfer services contracted with the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (Nemzeti Egészségbiztosítási Alapkezelő, NEAK).


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