Washington, D.C. Health Care Looking More and More Like Canada’s

Hospitals in Washington, D.C. and Maryland must frequently divert ambulances carrying all but the most critically ill and injured patients because of emergency room (ER) overcrowding, forcing many less-critical patients to travel farther for care, increasing costs and potentially causing dangerous delays, says the Washington Post.

  • Since 2004, some District and Maryland hospitals have had to divert ambulance traffic with increasing frequency because they lacked the beds, equipment or staff for patients.
  • Some D.C. hospitals diverted ambulances the equivalent of one out of five days in 2008, and some Maryland hospitals' emergency rooms diverted ambulances at least 15 percent of the time.

Comments (3)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Hey, John. A majority of people in Washington, D.C. want to live under the Canadian health care system.

  2. John R. Graham says:

    I love the statement by Prof. Siegel, that the solution is to have “national rules” for ER diversion. What the heck are national rules going to do? Maryland hospitals would have data on ER diversions in Dallas or Seattle. How would that inform their resource allocation?

    Maybe they should go upstream a little and just have a national rule against being in an accident, or getting shot, or having a stroke or heart attack.

    I think the most depressing part of the story is that one reason for overcrowded ERs is population growth in the area: the DC suburbs. And we know why the population is growing: The federal government is growing.

    Also, both Maryland and Virginia have CON (Certificate of Need) laws that restrict construction of new facilities. Maryland is worse than Virginia, and neither are as bad as certain other states, but I’d bet it’s a factor.

  3. Ken says:

    John, the DC folks are just giving us a preview of what is in store for the whole nation once they get through legislating.