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1 in 4 Americans lacks timely access to optimal care during time-sensitive medical emergencies
Date:3/17/2009

(PHILADELPHIA) Although most Americans live close to some type of emergency room, as many as one in four Americans are more than an hour away from the type of hospital that's most prepared to save their life during a time-sensitive medical emergency, according to a new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine. Since little is known about which U.S. hospitals are best equipped and staffed to tackle emergent illnesses like stroke, cardiac arrest, heart attack and the severe bloodstream infection sepsis, many more Americans may be in peril because no system exists to transport them to the right hospital at the right time.

"Whether you are bleeding to death from an injury, having a heart attack, or having a stroke, the common denominator is time. In those life-threatening emergencies, we must blindly rely upon the system to rapidly deliver us to the care that we need," says lead author Brendan Carr, MD, MA, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology and senior fellow in Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. "If we knew what services were provided where, we could design a system that would do that for patients everywhere in the country."

The new study, conducted with collaborators from the Emergency Medicine Network (www.emnet-usa.org) at Massachusetts General Hospital, shows that 71 percent of Americans have access to an emergency department of some kind within 30 minutes, and 98 percent can reach one within an hour. But on a state-by-state basis, the findings suggest that many of those nearby facilities may not be able to provide care for the most emergent conditions.

Research shows that hospitals that treat a higher volume of patients tend to have more resources staffing, specialized imaging equipment and care protocols and ultimately, better patient outcomes. Residents of rural states appear to be much less likely to have a
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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