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Sen. Lieu wants California hospitals to reduce ER wait times

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In a press release issued today, Senator Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) calls on California hospitals to reduce emergency room wait times by adopting national guidelines that could result in speeding up treatment. His concerns stem from a story the Los Angeles Times published on Thursday citing a recent study in Oregon.

According to Lieu, “A recent study in the journal Science shows that Medicaid expansion increases emergency room visits of Medicaid enrollees by 40 percent. California is already dead last in the nation in terms of ER capacity. ER overcrowding, which is already at crisis levels, will only get worse with California's Medicaid expansion unless changes are made.“

“I thus call on California hospitals to immediately and voluntarily adopt the National Emergency Department Overcrowding Score (NEDOCS) methodology, or other similar protocols, to reduce ER wait times.” In 2012, Lieu authored Senate Bill 336, which was meant to do exactly that but it did not become law.

According to Lieu, the California Hospital Association did not oppose SB 336 and it was supported by the American College of Emergency Physicians (California Chapter) and the California Medical Association. Currently, some California hospitals have adopted NEDOCS and found the protocols to reduce ER overcrowding significantly by reducing “boarding” where stabilized patients are kept in ER.

“I will continue to pursue this issue, but in the meantime, there is no time to waste,” Lieu said. “The Affordable Care Act is being implemented and Medicaid expansion is happening. California's ER overcrowding problem will soon start causing even more unnecessary deaths unless more efficient protocols are put into place.”

“ER overcrowding is a problem that can affect anyone. Whether you are a CEO or a homeless person, if you have a life-threatening emergency and your ambulance has to be diverted to another hospital farther away because of ER overcrowding, your chances of death just increased. The time is now to take steps to reduce future unnecessary deaths from ER overcrowding,” Lieu concluded.

Lieu represents the 28th Senate district, which includes the cities of Beverly Hills, Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Torrance, West Hollywood and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

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