District of Columbia Ranks First in the Nation for Policies that Support Emergency Patients - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

District of Columbia Ranks First in the Nation for Policies that Support Emergency Patients

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SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

What are my state's grades? Find them at www.emreportcard.org

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The District of Columbia led the nation with a B- in a new report card issued today by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), citing stellar access to emergency care and a strong commitment to disaster preparedness. Ironically, the District ranked last in the nation for having the worst medical liability environment. The nation's overall grade fell to a D+, since the last Report Card was issued in 2009.

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The District ranked first in the nation in the category of Access to Emergency Care and for having many medical specialists, such as neurosurgeons and emergency physicians. It also made significant gains since the 2009 Report Card in the area of Quality and Patient Safety Environment by funding quality improvements in the emergency medical services (EMS) system and hiring an EMS medical director. In addition, there were low numbers of uninsured compared with the nation with 4.3 percent of children and 9.3 percent of adults lacking health insurance.

"Given the uncertainties of health care reform, emergency care has never been more important than it is right now," said
Dr. Aisha Liferidge, president of the District of Columbia Chapter of ACEP. The residents of the District of Columbia are fortunate because there are many medical resources available here. But there is certainly room for improving wait times for emergency patients and the medical liability environment."

The District faces challenges that include having the worst medical liability environment in the country, which earned it an "F."  The Report Card had recommendations for improvement that included:

  • Reduce excessively long emergency department wait times. Emergency patients in the District can expect to wait nearly 3 hours longer than the national average to be admitted to the hospital.
  • Provide liability protections for Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act-mandated emergency care to protect emergency care providers as they serve high-risk patients with little or no knowledge of the patient's medical history.
  • Improve the medical liability environment by reining in high malpractice awards and insurance premiums and by placing caps on noneconomic damages
  • Address severe racial and ethnic health disparities. For example, the infant mortality rate for black infants in the District (16.5 deaths per 1,000 live births) is 3.8 times higher than the rate for white infants  Similar disparities exist for cardiovascular disease.
  • Increase the number of primary care physicians to ensure that all residents receive the preventive care and treatment that they need.

"America's Emergency Care Environment:  A State-by-State Report Card – 2014" evaluates conditions under which emergency care is being delivered, not the quality of care provided by hospitals and emergency providers. It has 136 measures in five categories:  access to emergency care (30 percent of the grade), quality and patient safety (20 percent), medical liability environment (20 percent), public health and injury prevention (15 percent) and disaster preparedness (15 percent). While America earned an overall mediocre grade of C- on the Report Card issued in 2009, this year the country received a near-failing grade of D+.

People can see their state's grades in America's Emergency Care Environment: A State-by-State Report Card at www.emreportcard.org.

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

Follow ACEP on Twitter @emergencydocs

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