U.S. low-income people get unequal access to emergency response: study

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-02 04:31:09|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. low income communities are waiting longer time for emergency medical response than rich people, according to the latest study led by University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

In the first nationwide study of 63,600 cases of cardiac arrest, UCSF researchers found that low income communities waited four minutes longer in average for their calls for an ambulance to be handled than in rich neighborhoods.

"We found that emergency medical services response times were 10 percent longer in the poorest neighborhoods," said Renee Hsia, a professor of emergency medicine at UCSF and an emergency physician at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

The slow emergency response to ambulance calls "stacks the odds against survival for low income patients," Hsia said.

The researchers reviewed data from the 2014 National Emergency Medical Services Information Systems in 46 of 52 U.S. states, or 92 percent of the total.

They found that the average medical emergency response times, on-scene times and transport times were 10 percent longer in low income communities than the highest income zip code areas.

The study sample was almost 58 percent male aged about 60 in average, and the researchers examined the time of ambulance operations including from that of dispatch to the patient's location and all the way to the hospital.

They discovered that average emergency response time was 37.5 minutes in rich neighborhoods, while the figure increased to 43 minutes in the lowest income communities.

"Each minute of delay increases the odds that a patient will not survive a heart attack," Hsia said.

She noted that the findings of the research suggest that health care disparities are associated with the socioeconomic status of communities between the rich and the vulnerable population.

The study was published Friday in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed, open-access medical journal of the American Medical Association.