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QuickStats: Percentage of Hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) Having to Divert Ambulances, by Selected Characteristics --- United States, 2003


* MSA = Metropolitan Statistical Area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Estimate does not meet standard of reliability or precision because the relative standard error is >30%.

§ Number of visits annually.

Ambulance diversion occurs when EDs are too crowded to handle any more critically ill or injured patients and request that ambulances bypass them for another hospital. In 2003, an estimated 45% of hospital EDs were on diversion status at some time during the previous year. Ambulance diversions were more common in EDs with larger volumes of patients and those in metropolitan areas.

SOURCES: 2003 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Available at; Burt C, McCaig L, Valverde R. Analysis of ambulance transports and diversions among US emergency departments. Ann Emerg Med 2006;47:317--26.

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