Find out why two Jackson hospitals pay millions so they don’t have to treat trauma patients in ERs

Published 1:58 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019

According to a memo, Mississippi code is so clear that patient liability falls to hospitals, the AG did not opine and instead pointed to statute reiterating wall time burden falls on hospitals, not paramedics. But it’s still ambulance crews who pay the price.

According to health department data, Baptist and St. Dominic saw the fewest patient transfers last year — around 1,300 each — among high-volume hospitals. But the two also had the highest average wall times. By comparison, UMMC’s wall time is comparable, at around an hour, but their 47-bed emergency department sees more than double the number of patient transfers as Baptist and St. Dominic combined — 3,500 last year.

Ware, Baptist’s CEO, notes that wall time is not a standard metric. States, medics and hospitals across the nation have been grappling with wall time, which sees a median of 48 minutes for transfers across the state, but have not figured out a consistent measure to count the amount of time medics are stuck on the wall. The health department used standardized time stamps from ambulances — when they arrive at the hospital and when they go back in service — as the best estimate of the time it takes to offload a patient and move on to the next emergency call.

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“Wall time is not really a standardized measure, so it’s hard for me to comment on that. It’s not something that we track. We don’t monitor it. I have no basic calculation that says this is what makes up wall time and how you calculate it,” Ware said.

“We really base our times on the (U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) standard reporting criteria,” she added. “From everything we are seeing from a (CMS) statistic standpoint it looks like we are performing very well. There’s always room for improvement — we always try to find ways that we can be more efficient.”

Notably, the federal government does not track wall time either. When asked what the health care system could do to try to alleviate wall time and keep emergency medical services from being pulled out of their home counties for long amounts of time when stuck in Jackson, Ware said: “I understand their (paramedics) frustration. I don’t know if there are options for them to go to a hospital that’s closer to them that doesn’t take them away from their home base as long, so that might be a possibility.”

North, the St. Dominic spokesman, said local emergency medical services have worked with the hospital on temporary initiatives when the hospital is at capacity by routing ambulances carrying patients with less acute injuries to other areas of the hospital to reduce congestion.