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Mass. Public Health Department ER Policy Doesn t Cause Longer Waits

BOSTON Public health officials say a state policy that requires crowded hospital emergency rooms to accept all patients delivered by ambulance has not lengthened waits despite the fears of some doctors.

The state Public Health Department said the average time patients spent in 75 of the state s emergency rooms remained about the same since the rule went into effect in January. Patients who were admitted to the hospital spent from 5 to 5 hours in the emergency room, while patients who were sent home spent about 2 hours.

Alice Bonner, director of health care safety and quality for the department, tells The Boston Globe that the police has been a success.

Under a practice called diversion, hospitals had for years turned away most ambulances when emergency rooms were overcrowded.