A Failing Grade for ER Care - A Wake-up Call?
The American College of Emergency Physicians' (ACEP) recent 2014 Report Card presents a troubling and sobering assessment of our nation's emergency care system. In spite of increasing demand for emergency services, yet shrinking capacity and reductions in funding and resources, ACEP's findings show that the nation's ER environment has not improved as expected, but instead has sadly deteriorated.
Compared to an overall grade of "C-" in 2009, this year's grade slid to a "D+" reflecting, according to the study's authors, "a nation that has too few emergency departments to meet the needs of a growing, aging population."
2014 ER Report Card By States Overall
Source: America's Emergency Care Environment, A State-by-State Report Card - 2014
It is important to point out that the report does not measure the quality of care provided by hospitals and emergency departments. Rather, it assesses the conditions and policies under which ER care is delivered on a state-by-state and national basis. ACEP's comprehensive study utilizes 136 objective measures across five key categories, including Access to Emergency Care, Quality and Patient Safety, Medical Liability, Public Health and Injury Prevention, and Disaster Preparedness.
While four of the five categories receive passing grades of 'C" or "C-," the fifth, and highest weighted category, "Access to Emergency Care," receives an overall grade of "D-." Perhaps of more concern is that twenty-one states received a failing grade, "F," in this critical category.
Obviously, there are many factors that contribute to this troubling situation. With significantly increased utilization expected as a result of the Affordable Care Act, these findings certainly represent a Call to Action for providers and policy-makers at the state and national level.
For those of you interested in the report's details and additional insights, as well as ACEP's recommendations, just give me a call or send an email for a free copy.