Objective: To examine whether hospitals are more likely to temporarily close their emergency departments (EDs) to ambulances (through ambulance diversions) if neighboring diverting hospitals are public vs private. Data Sources/Study Setting: Ambulance diversion logs for California hospitals, discharge data, and hospital characteristics data from California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and the American Hospital Association (2007). Study Design: We match public and private (nonprofit or for-profit) hospitals by distance and size. We use random-effects models examining diversion probability and timing of private hospitals following diversions by neighboring public vs matched private hospitals. Data Collection/Extraction Methods: N/A. Principal Findings: Hospitals are 3.6 percent more likely to declare diversions if neighboring diverting hospitals are public vs private (P < 0.001). Hospitals declaring diversions have lower ED occupancy (P < 0.001) after neighboring public (vs private) hospitals divert. Hospitals have 4.2 percent shorter diversions if neighboring diverting hospitals are public vs private (P < 0.001). When the neighboring hospital ends its diversion first, hospitals terminate diversions 4.2 percent sooner if the neighboring hospital is public vs private (P = 0.022). Conclusions: Sample hospitals respond differently to diversions by neighboring public (vs private) hospitals, suggesting that these hospitals might be strategically declaring ambulance diversions to avoid treating low-paying patients served by public hospitals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy