Study Examines California Emergency Care System
California hospitals operated fewer emergency departments in 2001 than they did in 1990, but more ED beds were available in 2001, according to a study published on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs, the Sacramento Bee reports (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 3/25). Researchers at the University of Southern California and RAND analyzed hospital data on all acute care given in state hospitals from 1990 to 2001 and conducted a series of onsite case study interviews (Melnick et al., Health Affairs 3/24). Researchers found that the percentage of hospitals with EDs decreased 11.3% from 405 in 1990 to 359 in 2001, while the number of ED beds statewide increased 20%, the Bee reports. The percentage of California hospitals that operated EDs decreased from 86% in 1990 to 81% in 2001, and the number of emergency beds per 100,000 residents increased from 14.6 in 1990 to 15.1 in 2002, the study found. The report found that from 1990 to 2001 hospital closures were responsible for the biggest loss of EDs and that 21 operating hospitals stopped providing emergency services. In addition, the study found that in 1990 half of California residents lived within 1.92 miles of the nearest ED, compared with 2.19 miles in 2001 (Sacramento Bee, 3/25). An abstract of the report is available online.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.