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Open Access Publications from the University of California

When Emergency Rooms Close: Ambulance Diversion in the West San Fernando Valley


Los Angeles County allows an overcrowded emergency room to close its doors to additional paramedic transports, a procedure known as “diversion.” During these temporary closures, which come with little warning, paramedics scramble to find the next closest facility. They must drive longer distances, delaying patient care and prolonging response times to new incidents. In addition, other hospitals must shoulder the increased patient load when one emergency room takes itself out of the network. This study constitutes one of the first comprehensive studies of diversion in Los Angeles County. It focuses on the West San Fernando Valley, a region noted for its higher-thanaverage diversion rates. This project analyzes the impact of diversion on the West Valley, identifies major problems related to diversion, and proposes recommendations to reduce inappropriate emergency room closures in this region.

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