A bill crafted to curb dangerous overcrowding in California's emergency departments died in the state Senate before it could reach the governor's desk.
Emergency department overcrowding bill stalls
The bill, introduced by state Assemblyman Ted Lieu, a Democrat, would have required all acute-care hospitals to assess crowding levels in their emergency departments every four to six hours using a scoring system that considers variables such as the number of boarded patients and average wait times. If passed, the legislation would have also mandated that hospitals implement set interventions for each stage of crowding.
The California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, known as CAL/ACEP, which sponsored the bill, asked that it be placed in the Senate's inactive file, ostensibly because the group feared the governor would not sign it, a spokesman for Lieu's office said. Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed an earlier, nearly identical version of the bill in 2009.
In a written statement, CAL/ACEP avoided mentioning any decision to shelve the bill and instead praised an early-stage voluntary pilot program implemented by the California Hospital Association, which uses a scoring system, similar to the one in Lieu's bill, in 26 hospitals. “California's hospitals needed a solution to address overcrowding, and while a pilot project is not a perfect solution, it's a start,” Andrea Brault, CAL/ACEP's president, said in the release.
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