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Heart Attack Victims Face Greater Risk of Dying When Ambulances Are Diverted
Date:6/12/2011

ersely affected," wrote the researchers, Yu-Chu Shen of the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif., and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Mass., and Dr. Renee Y. Hsia, of the University of California, San Francisco.

"It is important to emphasize that while demand on emergency care is increasing as evidenced by increasing utilization, supply of emergency care is decreasing. If these issues are not addressed on a larger scale, ED conditions will deteriorate, having significant implications for all," they concluded.

Some other experts agreed. Commenting on the study, Dr. Carl Ramsay, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said, "While the public sees ambulance diversion as a sign of ED overcrowding, those of us in emergency medicine have known for years that it actually reflects failed processes in the [non-emergency department] areas of the hospital."

"How many people actually know that unbalanced surgical scheduling by stacking up Monday through Thursday {operating room] schedules creates ED overcrowding, which creates ambulance diversion?" Ramsay continued. "This is only one in a chain of many dysfunctional links that leads directly back to the streets that carry patients to hospital emergency departments."

"This study focuses on death as the primary endpoint. The more that optimal disease management is discovered to be time-sensitive -- as in heart attack, stroke and sepsis -- most of the affected patients who do not reach care within the optimal timeframe will not die (thus the mortality figures will not substantially change), but will have permanent alterations that affect their ability to live a quality existence," he said.

"This impacts the person, their family and our society," Ramsay added. "This study reveals the tip of the iceberg."

More information

The American College of Emergency Physicians outlines situations when '/>"/>

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