WA hospitals struggle with extreme ED overloads

While emergency departments are overloaded across the U.S., few regions are struggling quite as hard as Washington state's King County area, where overflowing facilities are closing EDs as often as six times a month, according to area officials. The problem seems to be a more-intense version of issues that are cropping up nationally, including a flood of uninsured patients, a primary-care physician shortage and an aging population, and an unusual influx of patients with winter illnesses like the flu. No one is sure why things are quite so bad now, but this is about the worst even the most experienced veterans in the region have seen, according to a report in the Seattle Times. This summer, hospitals hope to get some help in the form of a new system that routes ambulances around the county more efficiently. Also, one of the area's trauma hospitals plans to open 50 beds. However, it seems the region will remain in crisis for while unless bed supply increases further--or patient influx slows down.

To learn more about the Puget Sound area's hospital crisis:
- read this Seattle Times piece

Related Articles:
CDC report backs emergency department overcrowding charges. Report
Hospitals develop strategies to cope with ED overloads. Editorial
Overcrowding worsens at nation's EDs. Report
Congress takes on ER overcrowding. Report
Less ambulance diversion means more profit. Report

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