Study: Emergency medical services take 10 percent longer to get to poor neighborhoods


Emergency medical services take 10 percent longer to arrive on the scene in poor neighborhoods compared to wealthy areas, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 

People in poor neighborhoods waited on average four minutes longer to receive medical assistance for cardiac arrest in 2014, the study’s researchers found. They used 2014 data because it was the most recent available as of June of last year.

{mosads}The researchers looked at the experiences of 63,600 patients who went into cardiac arrest outside of hospitals in rich and poor zip codes across 46 states. Patients in wealthy areas were more likely to receive care within eight or 15 minutes, crucial cutoffs for those experiencing cardiac arrest, the authors found.

People in wealthier areas waited an average of 13.6 minutes to receive care, while those in poorer areas waited 18.8 minutes on average.

The researchers looked into four time measures, including how long it took for ambulances to arrive on the scene, the time emergency responders took on the scene, the time it took to get to the hospital and how long it took to provide care from start to finish. 

Cardiac arrest is one of the most time-sensitive medical emergencies, with only a few minutes often making the difference between life or death.

The study’s authors concluded that their findings contributed to the large body of work proving people from poorer areas are less healthy and less likely to receive adequate medical care.

Commentary accompanying the article by Andrew Friedson, from the University of Colorado-Denver, adds that the results could be skewed because of the timing of the report. The Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014, which may have resulted in more people from poor neighborhoods using emergency services. 

Tags Cardiac arrest Emergency medical services Health care

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