Would you walk into an emergency room if there was a sign on the door that read, ‘This emergency room received a D+ grade’ ? Probably not, unless you were in dire medical need. Unfortunately the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has released the findings of the 2014 Emergency Room Report Card to indicate that, as a whole, the emergency care environment in the United States has worsened. The study used five categories to assess state emergency rooms. Although this study does provide insight to many aspects of patient safety in emergency room care it is important to point out that it was written by doctors. In fact one of the categories that states were graded on is medical liability environment. States received higher grades for implementing medical injury caps. As Virginia (VA) medical malpractice lawyers we know that medical malpractice caps are arbitrary figures that are designed to save money in our health care system. Sadly, they fail miserably in this effort and neither save the health care system money nor reduce mistakes. That being said we can still examine the other categories
- Access to Emergency Care: The national grade for Access to Emergency Care remains a D- as states continue to struggle with a plethora of issues, including health care workforce shortages, shortages of on-call specialists, limited hospital capacity to meet the needs of patients, long emergency department wait times, and increasing financial barriers.
- Disaster Preparedness: While the States overall have continued to improve and refine their disaster preparedness planning and practices, the national grade has fallen slightly to a C-. This is due, in large part, to wide variations across the states in hospital capacity and personnel preparedness.
- Quality and Patient Safety Environment: The nation continues to fare best in the Quality and Patient Safety Environment category, as many states have implemented systems and protocols to improve life-saving care and to facilitate effective and efficient systems of care.
- Public Health and Injury Prevention: The Public Health and Injury Prevention category is unique in that the overall focus is on areas where state systems and initiatives can preemptively have a tremendous impact on improving health outcomes and ultimately reduce the overall need for emergency care. One example of this is immunizations for children and the elderly—reducing the number of people susceptible to contagious disease will ultimately save lives and prevent cases from reaching the emergency department.