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The impact of hospital overcrowding


Narrator:
       This is Science Today. A University of California, San Francisco study found that heart attack patients whose ambulances are diverted due to hospital overcrowding tend to die at a higher rate than other patients. Now, researchers are pointing out that these life-threatening diversions occur more frequently in low-income communities.

Hsai:              Hospitals that have a higher proportion of minority patients or poorly insured or poor patients do tend to be on diversion more. But that's not to say that other patients aren't affected.

Narrator:       Emergency room physician Renee Hsia explains that, when an ambulance is diverted due to hospital overcrowding, the effects of that overcrowding tend to spill from one hospital to the next.

Hsia:              Some people look at the data and they say, well crowding or closures, they don't happen in my community because I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood, but we want to emphasize that emergency care is a public good because if we have closures happening in a disproportionate way in certain communities, it actually impacts our ability to deliver efficient healthcare.

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