University of Pennsylvania Logo According to a new study, many Americans live more than an hour’s away from the type of hospital that is believed to be the most equipped to save their respective lives. A lot of Americans may be in danger when they undergo time-sensitive emergencies like stroke and cardiac arrest. This could be because, no proper system is in place to ensure a timely transfer of these people to the right hospital. This study was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in collaboration with the Emergency Medicine Network at Massachusetts General Hospital.

This study has shown that many Americans could reach some type of an emergency department within reasonable time; however those emergency departments may not be well equipped to provide proper care for certain serious cases.

“Whether you are bleeding to death from an injury, having a heart attack, or having a stroke, the common denominator is time. In those life-threatening emergencies, we must blindly rely upon the system to rapidly deliver us to the care that we need. If we knew what services were provided where, we could design a system that would do that for patients everywhere in the country,” says Lead author Brendan Carr, MD, MA, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology and senior fellow in University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

It has been stated that the regionalized trauma care system of the nation permits the emergency medical providers to sidestep the closest hospital and take the severely injured patients to other better equipped facilities. Carr suggests that this system could also be applied for time-sensitive conditions like heart attack and stroke, as well. But putting this system into practice could prove to be difficult, as a centralized list of emergency department facilities may not be available.

The solution proposed for boosting the emergency care quality was to subsidize rural hospitals or give incentives to the doctors to practice at those rural facilities, and improve the referral networks between hospitals and also categorize hospitals that could focus on the treatment of certain illnesses. It has been stated that Carr looks at the study as a stepping stone to better the emergency care services in the United States.

This study was published in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.