EMS Tranportation Problem

The Emergency Trauma Care Policy Council is considering a new way of getting ambulances and hospitals to coordinate the transportation of patients.

The policy council studied the region's emergency medical services delivery. The study showed that the rate of people with true emergencies admitted to hospitals in the region is double the national average. It also shows that hospital bed capacity is marginally adequate by national standards. UT Health Science Center Houston neurosurgeon Doctor Guy Clifton defines the problem.

Clifton says trauma capacity has risen in the region since starting the group Save Our ER's.

The problem is in transfering from one hospital to another. Clifton is pursuing a centralized patient distribution center that could help address these issues.

Clifton estimates the cost to run such a center to be less than $2.5 million a year. Houston has a system that's similar to what the policy council is considering, but on a much smaller scale.

Houston EMS Director Doctor David Persse says a distribution center would require cooperation among ambulance companies and hospitals with a lot of sharing of real-time information.

Perrse says a system was put together on the fly to deal with emergencies during hurricanes Katrina and Rita now, officials are considering a more permanent set up.

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