Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More on Ambulance Diversion

From the Hawaii Channel:

A national study indicates that an ambulance is diverted every minute, on average, to a different hospital because emergency rooms in the U.S. are so overcrowded.

The study did not measure how the delays in getting to hospitals affected patients' survival, but experts said it could not have been for the better.

Catharine Burt of the National Center for Health Statistics is the study's lead author. She said that whether the delay is two minutes or 15, that's going to have some impact.

About 500,000 ambulances were diverted from their original destinations because the receiving hospitals' emergency departments were too overcrowded, the survey data from 2003 indicated.

Of the more than 16 million patients who arrive at an emergency room by ambulance, 70 percent need critical care within the hour.

Ambulances are diverted when a hospital's emergency department closes its doors to incoming patients and directs traffic to other hospitals.

The study is being published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.


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