Last week we posted (here and here) about our new issue brief on ambulance diversions. Here are a few thoughts about what we can do to fix the problem, which is a threat to all of us, regardless of our wealth or insurance status. Shutting emergency departments, even briefly, to ambulance traffic is a a sign of the strain on our overall health care system.
One part of the solution is to set standard criteria for when a hospital can put itself on diversion. Criteria might include: percentage of hospital beds currently in use, the number of staff on duty, and the number of people in the ED waiting room. Hospital accountability for reporting and abiding by diversion standards could be tied to federal funding. For instance, failure to report diversion rates in a timely manner would jeopardize hospital funding. It would help if we could do a comprehensive national study to assess hospital capacity, and diversions' impact.