One ambulance an hour being diverted in NJ

Emergency rooms are crammed across the country--and what's happening in New Jersey is a perfect example. According to a new report, ED overcrowding and staff shortages are so severe, one ambulance an hour is being turned away from an emergency department in the state. The situation is so direct that state officials wonder whether the health system could cope with a major health crisis.

It's not as though hospitals aren't trying to cope, but the volume of patient visits is just overwhelming.  According to the report, the number of ED visits in the state rose to 3.36 million in 2005, up more than 25 percent since 1998. Meanwhile, with many procedures going outpatient which used to require inpatient care, hospitals are eliminating beds. That may save money, but it also makes it more difficult to get patients into the appropriate unit, which backs up things in the ED.

To learn more about the NJ situation:
- read this article in The Star-Ledger

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