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Calif. bill would limit wall time to 30 minutes

Legislation requires hospitals to develop ambulance bed delay protocols by Sept. 1, 2024

By Bill Carey

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation requiring the California Emergency Medical Services Authority to take urgent actions to address the chronic issue of ambulance patient offload delays, commonly referred to as ambulance bed delays or “wall times.”

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez, requires hospitals to develop wall time reduction protocol by Sept. 1, 2024, and file the protocol with EMSA, Contra Costa News reported.

“Having served as a first responder for over 30 years, I can recall times when I waited more than 12 hours on the wall with a patient,” Assemblymember Rodriguez stated. “These delays negatively impact our emergency medical system as first responders cannot respond to their next call while the patient currently under their care does not receive the timely care they need.”

The bill requires EMSA to establish a standard for wall times to be no greater than 30 minutes and monitor monthly wall time data to ensure the standard is being met.

Based on a report from EMSA in 2020, approximately 70,000 residents of California endure wait times exceeding one hour on an ambulance gurney after reaching the hospital, before the emergency department staff takes over their care and transfers them to an available emergency bed. In the meantime, emergency transport teams are unable to respond to other urgent situations, and patients experience the negative consequences of delayed access to medical attention.