AAMS Member Alert UPDATE – January 10, 2018

Last month, AAMS alerted our members that the US Department of Transportation’s Consumer Protection Division (DOTCPD) has begun receiving complaints from patients transported by Air Medical Services via a portal on DOTCPD’s website.

The purpose of this process is to provide air medical patients with similar consumer protections DOT extends to other aviation passengers.  In principal, AAMS supports the need for consumer protection in air medical transport.  AAMS immediately began, and will continue, discussions with the DOT to address valid industry questions and concerns about the overall process, from the initial complaint filing to tracking a complaint to resolution.  Below please find important highlights of our discussion with the DOT to date:

  • To provide DOTCPD with your preferred company contact, email Jessica Illich at Jessica.ilich@dot.gov.  Provide her with the name of your company and the appropriate point of contact.  If your company has DBA’s (“Doing Business As”) please list those as well.
  • DOT has made it clear that whomever is named in the complaint will receive the letter indicating a complaint has been filed. (AAMS’ previous update incorrectly stated that the Part 135 Certificate Holder would receive that letter. To be clear, those letters will be sent, from the DOT, to whatever entity is identified in the complaint. That means hospitals as well as operators may receive complaint communications, depending on what organization is identified in the complaint.)
  • The complaints will appear on the Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) (link to sample doc). There will be no separate air medical complaint category.  An air carrier (direct or indirect) will only be named if it has more than five complaints per month, and no additional information other than the company name on the complaint will be given.
  • DOT will police the reports made to ensure that no duplicative or automated complaints are reported.  If complaints refer to an area within their authority, they will follow-up on those complaints. If there are complaints within the purview of another agency, they will refer the complaint to that agency; none of that information will be made public or be included in the report.
  • No information about the complaint, the follow-up to the complaint, or the resolution or non-resolution of that complaint, will be made public in the report.
  • Air medical operators have no regulatory responsibility to inform its patients/passengers.  This process is not the result of new regulation, and no new requirements are expected at this time.

Please note, this updated information is based on the interpretation of our discussions with DOT.  Although the information provided online by the DOT remains limited, AAMS members should be advised that the Department of Transportation can modify or change this information, or the complaint process, at any time.

AAMS will continue to meet with DOT and provide updates to its members when new information becomes available.  Should you be contacted by the DOT, please email Chris Eastlee at ceastlee@aams.org.