Reducing Ambulance Diversion in California: Strategies and Best Practices

Mike Williams
Pam Turner
Maggie Borders


This is archived content; for historical reference only.

Communities across the country have struggled with the problems that result when overburdened emergency departments (EDs) redirect ambulances to other hospitals nearby. Such diversions can have negative consequences for patients, as well as increase the strain on the facilities that end up absorbing the overflow.

This issue brief presents the results of the California ED Diversion Project, a study funded by the California HealthCare Foundation to measure ambulance diversion in California and to analyze ED demand and capacity. The project included the formation of a multihospital collaborative intended to help reduce diversion and to identify best practices that EDs can use to improve their ability to handle spikes in patient flow.

The study found that while a high diversion rate is typically a symptom of a community strained by tightening hospital capacity, the reverse does not necessarily hold true. The authors offer strategies from the collaborative model as tools for communities that want to reduce or eliminate ambulance diversion.

The complete issue brief is available under Document Downloads. A more detailed version of the study findings is available on the website of the California ED Diversion Project, accessible under External Links below.

Independent Project Evaluation

Also listed under External Links is a report presenting findings from an independent evaluation of the project conducted by the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.