Case study: DC, MD face high ambulance diversion rates

Many parts of the country, unfortunately, face problems with ambulance diversion due to overcrowding in the emergency department. One prime example can be found in the D.C. metropolitan area, where the problem has been growing significantly in recent years.

Hospitals in Maryland and the District have been diverting ambulances more and more often since 2004, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. In D.C., some hospitals diverted ambulances roughly one out of five days in 2008, and some Maryland hospitals had to turn ambulances away 15 percent of the time. (The newspaper couldn't offer data on the northern Virginia area, considered a part of the D.C. metro, because the state isn't tracking the issue closely.)

Why are ambulances being diverted so often in these hospitals? In some cases, it's because a hospital's ED is flooded with poor patients who don't have a family doctor. In other cases, however, the problem is planning, with suburban hospitals overwhelmed by the growth in their region. Still other hospitals are simply inefficient at getting patients through the ED, into beds and out again, the analysis suggests.

To learn more about this problem:
- read this Washington Post piece

Related Articles:
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