Report: Los Angeles County Ambulances Told to Leave Behind Patients with Hospitals Overflowing

virus ambulance
APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency has reportedly instructed ambulance teams to leave behind patients they cannot resuscitate at the scene.

On Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city is reporting new coronavirus cases every six seconds, adding to the over 827,000 reported cases over the course of the pandemic. Approximately 10,850 of those L.A. residents have died so far. And as hospitals once again move beyond capacity, authorities are facing grim decisions.

“Ambulance relieving stations” are being set up outside emergency rooms to help deal with the volume of patients being transported to hospitals, but the strain on both the ambulance crews and hospital staff remains untenable. Because of this, EMS teams have been told to reduce their use of oxygen via a directive distributed Monday.

Additionally, these first responders have reportedly been instructed to attempt resuscitation for at least 20 minutes at the scene but to leave any patient that does not regain respiration or pulse. While the odds of such a patient surviving are remote even in the best of times, ambulances would typically still attempt to bring the patient to the hospital.

“Many hospitals have reached a point of crisis and are having to make very tough decisions about patient care,” Los Angeles County Director of Health Services Dr. Christina Ghaly said during a Monday press conference. “We do not believe that we are yet seeing the cases that stemmed from the Christmas holiday. This, sadly, and the cases from the recent New Year’s holiday, is still before us, and hospitals across the region are doing everything they can to prepare.”


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