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Black heart attack victims more likely to have ambulance diverted

Staff writer ▼ | March 23, 2016
Black heart attack patients are more likely than whites to have their ambulance diverted to another hospital due to overcrowding in the closest emergency department, a new study shows.
New study   Reducing chances of survival
The researchers also found that long diversions reduced black patients' chances of receiving specialized heart care and increased their risk of death within a year.

The study looked at 2001-11 Medicare data. The researchers included information on nearly 30,000 heart attack patients who were transported by ambulance to hospitals in 26 California counties.

Half the patients had no ambulance diversion, the study found. Another quarter had diversions lasting six hours or less, researchers said. Fifteen percent of heart attack patients had six to 12 hours of diversion, and 10 percent had more than 12 hours of diversion, the study said.

Diversions were more likely to occur for patients being taken to hospitals that served minorities - particularly those that served large numbers of black patients, according to the study.

Patients with more than 12 hours of ambulance diversion were:

- 4.4 percent less likely to be treated in cardiac care units
- 3.4 percent less likely to be treated in
catheterization labs or facilities specializing in procedures to improve blood flow to the heart
- 4.3 percent less likely to receive catheterization
- 9.6 percent more likely to die during the following year.