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Heart attack death rates linked to ambulance diversion


Narrator:       This is Science Today. A new study from the University of California, San Francisco found that heart attack patients die at a higher rate when the nearest emergency room is so overcrowded that their ambulance is diverted to another hospital.

Hsai:               This is one of the first studies to actually link how crowding affects outcomes. We were able to show that patient mortality, whether we measure it by 30-day, 60-day, nine-month or one-year, mortality increases when you've been experiencing diversion. So, when your ER is crowded, essentially.           

Narrator:       Emergency room physician Renee Hsia explains that ER crowding is actually a downstream effect of hospital crowding and could be prevented through better overall management of resources.

Hsia:               ER crowding isn't just an ER problem. It's a hospitalwide problem. A lot of the time, we're crowded in the ERs because there's no inpatient beds. So, I think it's important to note that there are policy initiatives that can be made but they can't just be at the ER level, they have to be whole hospitalwide solutions.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.