(HealthDay News) — Emergency department closures are associated with increased mortality for admissions that occur nearby, according to research published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

Charles Liu, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined the impact of an emergency department’s closing on surrounding communities. Data were reviewed for all emergency department closures in California from 1999–2010, and their association with inpatient mortality at nearby hospitals was assessed.

The researchers found that, during the study period, one-quarter of hospital admissions occurred near an emergency department closure. The odds of inpatient mortality were 5% higher for admissions that occurred near an emergency department closure vs. those that did not occur near a closure. The correlation persisted for emergency department closures affecting all future nearby admissions or only those in the subsequent two years.

“These results suggest that emergency department closures have ripple effects on patient outcomes that should be considered when health systems and policy makers decide how to regulate emergency department closures,” the authors write.

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