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American College of Emergency Physicians Criticizes University of Chicago Medical Center ED Diversion Policy

 

KAISER HEALTH POLICY REPORT:

American College of Emergency Physicians Criticizes University of Chicago Medical Center ED Diversion Policy

     The American College of Emergency Physicians last week said that a University of Chicago Medical Center initiative to divert patients from its emergency department is "dangerously close to patient dumping," which would violate federal law, the Chicago Tribune reports. ACEP said the medical center is "failing in its obligation to treat emergency patients, citing drastic reductions in inpatient beds for emergency patients." The group also said the policy is an effort to "cherry pick" wealthy patients over lower-income patients.

"The medical center is reducing emergency care access to its local community, while at the same time, opening a 'side door' to a 'specialty intake area' to provide emergency care to medical center private patients," ACEP President Nick Jouriles said. ACEP cited a Tribune article that profiled the case of a 12-year-old boy, who was not admitted to UC's ED after being attacked by a dog and was sent to another hospital for surgery. Jouriles said the initiative sets "a dangerous precedent that could have catastrophic effects in poor neighborhoods across the country." He said, "Congress needs to hold hearings about the problems facing emergency patients. If other community, nonprofit hospitals follow this example and shift the lion's share of resources to its high-revenue elective patients and procedures, it will leave many emergency patients virtually out in the cold" (Jaspen, Chicago Tribune).

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Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report
The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a website of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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