Monday, May 13, 2019

Some hospitals turn away ambulances when the patients are more likely to be poor, study finds

A new study finds that private hospitals close to ambulances more quickly when a nearby public hospital, that has more uninsured patients, goes on ambulance diversion. (Photo: File image)

Hospitals that temporarily shut their doors to ambulances have long argued the decision is driven purely by volume, so sick patients don't have to endure long waits for care in crowded emergency rooms.
But a new study has uncovered evidence of another motive for the practice: Hospitals may be turning away ambulances for financial reasons by avoiding treating patients with government health insurance or no coverage at all.
Using data from California, the study found evidence that suggests private hospitals are more likely to go on what is known as "ambulance diversion" if a nearby public hospital, which treats more indigent patients, is already turning away ambulances. 
In other words, researchers found private hospitals acted differently — by three separate measurements — depending on whether the nearby hospital turning away ambulances was public or private.
The researchers termed this behavior "strategic diversion."
Earlier studies have documented "defensive diversions," where a hospital will close because its ER is being overrun with patients after nearby hospitals also have closed. 

I've been dealing with doctors and hospitals quite a bit lately.  I don't find this the least bit surprising.  Turns out the further you go to the top of hospitals, the more pork you find. 

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