New Policies Help Sacramento-Area Hospitals To Reduce Rate of Ambulance Diversion in Emergency Rooms
Sacramento-area hospitals have reduced the number of hours per month that they have to divert trauma patients as a result of overcrowded emergency rooms, a trend that many officials had "feared" would become a "full-blown public health crisis," the Sacramento Bee reports. For example, Sacramento-based Mercy General Hospital, which had the "most pronounced" reduction, reported that ambulance diversion hours dropped to 44 in May, down from 407 hours a year earlier, according to a report released this week by the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California. "This took incredible effort for stakeholders with competing interests to sit down and work toward a common goal. If we maintain these results, people from all over are going to look to copy what has been accomplished in Sacramento," Robert David, vice president for the hospital council, said. In February, area hospital administrators, doctors, nurses and county officials met to develop "ground rules" for ambulance diversion to help reduce by half the number of hours that ERs were closed to trauma patients.
At Sutter Medical Center, loudspeaker announcements that inform hospital staff members when the ER becomes overcrowded have helped the facility reduce ambulance diversion hours. University of California-Davis Medical Center, which has focused on efforts to reduce patient wait times in the ER, opened a new unit to treat patients waiting a bed in the hospital. Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente expanded trauma care units in the HMO's area hospitals, built new medical offices in Folsom and Elk Grove and "focused its efforts on linking each HMO member to a primary care doctor." Area hospitals also hope to "sustain" and build on their "recent successes in controlling ER crowding" through new Web-based software that will track patient capacity at other facilities, the Bee reports (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 7/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.