Flu Symptoms Cause Ambulance Diversions at Los Angeles County EDs
Fifty-seven percent of Los Angeles County emergency departments have diverted ambulances in the last five days as patients with flu-like symptoms "have flooded the already crowded" EDs, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
This year, Los Angeles County public hospitals have diverted ambulatory patients an average of 63% of the time, compared with 41% in 2000 and 9% in 1995, according to the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency. At private hospitals in the county, ambulances were diverted an average of 24% of the time in 2005, compared with 16% in 2000, EMS reports.
EMS said the current increase in ambulance diversions from county-run hospitals is "significantly" higher than the same period last year, the Daily News reports (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/22).
County health officials are urging residents to call their physicians before seeking treatment at an ED (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 12/22). Patients who do not have primary care physicians are being encouraged to visit low-cost clinics rather than the ED. However, patients in high-risk groups, such as the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, should use the ED if there is no other option, officials said (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/22).