Firestorm: June 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ambulance Diversions Decrease Survival Rates for Heart Attack Victims

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) just released a new study showing that heart attack victims were less likely to survive when hospital EDs were overcrowded and ambulances were diverted.

As one USA Today reader responded:

Wait now, so they are saying if you have a heart attack, and get the proper care and treatment at a hospital later rather than sooner, it leads to higher death rates?? Gosh, who would have thought that Batman.

The study looked at more than 13,000 Medicare patients in four California counties and concluded that hospital EDs that were on diversion at least 12 hours a day had higher mortality rates for patients suffering cardiac arrest.

Dr. Renee Hsia of UCSF, one of the lead researchers on the study explains, "In fact, for every 100 patients who are unfortunate enough to have a heart attack when ambulances are being diverted for long periods of time, our study shows that there are three potentially avoidable deaths.”