The Effect of an Ambulance Diversion Ban

November 6, 2013

A recent study conducted by Burke, M.D., et al. illustrated the positive effects of a 2009 ban on diversions in Massachusetts hospitals.  The study, entitled "The Effect of an Ambulance Diversion Ban on Emergency Department Length of Stay and Ambulance Turnaround Time," revealed a 3.6% increase in ED volume associated with a 10.4 minute decrease in patient stay for admitted patients.  Ambulances also had a 2.4 minute decrease in turnaround time. 

So what does this mean? The study suggests that, despite what some would hypothesize, the diversion ban did not have a negative effect on patient crowding or ambulance availability in the Boston area hospitals. These results may have future implications for other states and cities weighing the viability of ED diversion bans.  The real test, however, would include a study that examines the effects on patient care in current cities and states where ED diversion does occur.  With more conclusive evidence, we might notice a general trend to copy Massachusetts's ED diversion ban movement.

Speakers: David Page, MS, NREMT-PAlexander Trembley, NREMT-PMarshall J. Washick, BAS, NREMT-PJoshua G. Salzman, MA, EMT-BKeith Wesley, MD, FACEPKelsey Echols, MD.

Original article: "The effect of an ambulance diversion ban on emergency department length of stay and ambulance turnaround time," by Laura G. Burke, MD, MPH; Nina Joyce, MPH; William E. Baker, MD; Paul D. Biddinger, MD; K. Sophia Dyer, MD; Franklin D. Friedman, MD, MS; Jason Imperato, MD, MBA; Alice King, MS, RN; Thomas M. Maciejko, EMT-P; Mark D. Pearlmutter, MD; Assaad Sayah, MD; Richard D. Zane, MD; Stephen K. Epstein, MD, MPP