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journalsentinel73 karma

The theory behind ambulance diversion is that it is supposed to direct ambulances away from jammed ERs to less-busy hospitals that can offer care more quickly. In practice, that is often not how it works because when one hospital goes on diversion, surrounding hospitals typically are soon overwhelmed by the diverted patients.

There also is an assumption in this scenario, that the only two options are to go to an overcrowded ER and wait for care or go to a more distant (and perhaps less-qualified) hospital and get care there. In the places where diversion has been ended, it has been shown there is another option that gets at solving the issue of ER crowding. That is to reform the rest of the hospital options so the ER can be more quickly emptied. For instance, hospitals are adjusting elective surgery schedules, reforming admissions and discharges and changing how rooms are cleaned, all with an eye to making the movement of patients more efficient.

To the question: How often is it the case that diversions save lives? No one knows that because there have been no peer-reviewed studies of ambulance diversion systems. There have been several studies that indicate diversion does not solve overcrowding and poses risk to patients.

journalsentinel44 karma

Yes, EMTs do work through the local EMS systems. That's where they learn about which hospitals are on diversion and which aren't. In Chicago, the regional hub would let the medics know which hospitals are open to ambulances. An important thing to note is that some hospitals will accept serious trauma cases like shooting victims even when they're on diversion.

journalsentinel8 karma

Thanks for the comment. How often are diversions happening in Indy?

journalsentinel3 karma

Thanks for your interest, u/UncleDan2017. You're right that EMTALA requires hospitals to treat people who arrive at their doors, or within 250 yards of their doors. But, if a hospital emergency department can divert an ambulance before it gets to the hospital, EMTALA does not apply.

journalsentinel0 karma

Hi, decidarius. I guess first off, it's important to say we don't know how an insurance company would view an ambulance or hospital bill. One thing that has come up in our reporting is that patients in an ambulance can ask to go to a hospital even if it is on diversion and from what we have been told, paramedics will sometimes take them there. Paramedics have told us they will explain the situation and patient choice is something they will honor unless the paramedics feel it is a patient's best interest medically to go somewhere else.