Image: © Politie

45-minute standard for emergency care

The Netherlands has a legal standard for the geographical distribution of hospital-based emergency care facilities. Virtually every resident of the Netherlands must be able to reach a hospital’s Accident & Emergency department by ambulance within 45 minutes. At the request of the Minister for Medical Care and Sport, the Health Council has looked into this matter, to determine whether that standard can be justified on medical scientific grounds.
The period of time that elapses before the risk of an unfavourable health outcome starts to increase, appears to depend on the type of disorder in question, and on the exact circumstances involved. With some disorders, the faster the patient can be stabilised and treated at the scene of the incident, the better. With other disorders, instead of first taking the patient to the nearest hospital with an Accident & Emergency department, it is more important to take them directly to a hospital offering specialist expertise.