The National Institute for Emergency Medicine (NIEMS) has confirmed its readiness to handle an expected increase in accidents during the New Year festival. The organization has already conducted drills for emergency medical teams to ensure preparedness.
The institute said significant focus in this matter is on the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (UCEP) system. The system is designed to protect emergency patients in critical conditions.
Under UCEP, patients are to be treated at the nearest hospital without any cost during the initial 72 hours until they are out of danger and can be safely transferred. Criteria for emergency critical conditions include unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, limb weakness, sudden abnormalities, severe physical and brain injuries threatening life, and conditions affecting breathing or circulation.
For non-critical emergencies, patients are advised to coordinate with their entitled hospitals or use their insurance first.
There have been instances where hospitals have refused patients, citing reasons like exceeding capacity. However, NIEMS emphasizes that, by law, hospitals must first admit patients without inquiring about their rights or financial status.
In the case of foreign tourists, the institute separates this into two issues: foreigners can receive treatment at any hospital regardless of the emergency status. However, for critical emergencies, hospitals will claim expenses from the foreign patient’s existing funds, such as life, health, or travel insurance. Once a patient is delivered to a hospital, treatment cannot be denied.
NIEMS — under the Ministry of Public Health — plays a crucial role in developing and managing the emergency medical services (EMS) nationwide. The organization focuses on integrating EMS into the general healthcare system as part of Thailand’s national development plan.