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Hospital overcrowding impacts minorities more

Narrator:        This is Science Today. The overcrowding of hospital emergency rooms is more likely to impact large minority populations. Those were the findings of a multi-institutional study that focused on the state of California. Lead author Renee Hsia, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explains that ERs and trauma centers are closing more frequently in areas with high minority populations.

Hsia:               We actually have more ER closures because we have a very market-based approach to health care and ERs are subject to the market forces, too, and ERs see all patients regardless of their ability to pay. And so, when you have these kind of mandates that we all see patients, but no mandates to say anyone's going to pay for that care, ERs have been increasingly closing.

Narrator:        Overcrowded hospitals result in ambulance diversion, which in turn delays timely emergency care.

Hsia:               We can't just document that there are problems. We have to figure out how to solve them and so that's the struggle we have is to kind of figure out good solutions.

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