US Receives C-Minus For Emergency Care

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The U.S. emergency care system received an overall grade of C-minus in a state-by-state analysis released on Tuesday by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (Park, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 12/10). For the analysis, the "National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine," an ACEP task force ranked the emergency care systems of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on 116 measures (May, Salt Lake Tribune, 12/9).

The task force divided the measures into five categories: access to emergency care; quality and patient safety environment; medical liability environment; public health and injury prevention; and disaster preparedness (Archer, Tulsa World, 12/9). Massachusetts received the highest overall grade, with a B (Galewitz, Palm Beach Post, 12/9). Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., each received an overall grade of B-minus. Arkansas received the lowest overall grade, with a D-minus (Harlow, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/9).

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ACEP President Nick Jouriles said, "This is a national disgrace. America deserves better." He called the U.S. emergency care system a "ticking time bomb made worse by the financial crisis and a failing health care system" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 12/10). In a statement, Jouriles said that the number of individuals who seek emergency care likely will increase because of the "weakened economy combined with a failing health care system" (Altonn, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 12/9). He added, "The role of emergency care has never been more critical to this nation, which is why emergency patients must become a top priority for health care reform" (Eyre, Charleston Gazette, 12/10).

Jouriles asked President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress to "strengthen emergency departments because they are a heath care safety net for us all" (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 12/9). Task force Chair Stephen Epstein said, "Our nation's emergency care resources are shrinking while the demand is growing," adding, "We simply don't have enough emergency departments to meet the needs of a growing and aging population" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 12/10).

ACEP President-elect Angela Gardner said, "We already have a system that is strained to the limit," adding, "This (recession) could break the system" (Alltucker, Arizona Republic, 12/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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