Ambulance Diversions Increase in Los Angeles County
Emergency departments at hospitals in Los Angeles County in 2005 diverted paramedic ambulances 8% more often than in 2004, according to data from the county Emergency Medical Services Agency, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to EMSA, public hospitals such as the County-University of Southern California and Harbor/University of California-Los Angeles medical centers diverted ambulances an average of about 20 hours per day. Some private hospitals closed to ambulances for 12 or more hours daily.
ED directors attribute the increased diversions to population growth, a greater number of seriously ill or injured patients, recent hospital closures and an increase in the number of patients using EDs for routine care.
A new diversion policy that will take effect in a couple of weeks will limit ED closures to one hour at a time and will require hospitals to remain open for at least 15 minutes before re-closing their EDs, according to EMSA Director Carol Meyer. Currently, hospitals can divert ambulances for two-hour periods.
EMSA also plans to develop systemwide standards for declaring diversion status and require medical centers to expedite patient flow, Meyer said (Gencer, Los Angeles Times, 3/9).