Ambulance Diversion

Reaffirmed by the ACEP Board of Directors April 2012 and October 2006

Revised and approved by the ACEP Board of Directors titled "Ambulance Diversion" January 1999

Originally approved by the ACEP Board of Directors titled "Ambulance Diversion/Destination Policies" September 1991

As an adjunct to this policy statement, ACEP's Emergency Medical Services Committee developed a Policy Resource Education Paper (PREP) titled Guidelines for Ambulance Diversion.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) believes that each EMS system must develop mechanisms to address patient diversions by health care facilities. These mechanisms must include the establishment of diversion policies for the EMS system that include agreements between facilities regarding when to divert patients and when to accept diverted patients. These cooperative agreements between hospitals and out-of-hospital agencies must be designed to:

  • Identify situations in which necessary hospital resources are not available and temporary ambulance diversion is required. 
  • Notify EMS system personnel and providers (out-of-hospital and hospital) of such occurrences. 
  • Provide for the safe, appropriate, and timely care of patients who continue to enter the EMS system during periods of diversion.
  • Notify EMS system personnel and providers (out-of-hospital and hospital) immediately when the situation that caused the diversion has been resolved.
  • Explore solutions that address the causes for diversion and implement policies that minimize the need for diversions.
  • Provide for the periodic review of policies and guidelines governing diversion

 

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