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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/ -- Utah remained among the top 10 states on the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians' (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America's emergency care environment ("Report Card"), despite a precipitous decline in the category of Disaster Preparedness and a near-failing grade in Access to Emergency Care.
Utah ranked among the top five states in the nation in the categories of Quality and Safety Environment and Public Health and Injury Prevention, with an A and an A-, respectively.
Utah's Quality and Safety Environment ranked second in the country, having numerous policies and practices that enhance the state's emergency response systems. According to the Report Card. the state has destination policies in place for stroke, heart attack and trauma patients, and Utah's hospitals are the second best in the nation for time taken to transfer chest pain patients to appropriate facilities.
In the category of Public Health and Injury Prevention, Utah slipped slightly from second place (since the 2009 Report Card) to fourth place, but remained very strong for many public health measures. It has the lowest smoking rate in the country and the 3rd lowest percentage of adults who binge drink. In addition, Utah has relatively high levels of funding for injury prevention and a low infant mortality rate.
In contrast, Utah dropped from 25th with a C+ in 2009 to 44th with an F in Disaster Preparedness, largely because so few physicians and nurses are registered with the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP). The state also has a low bed surge capacity and lacks a patient-tracking system during disasters. Outreach and education to increase physician and nurse registration with ESAR-VHP would significantly improve Utah's grade in this category.
"Utah's disaster preparedness efforts must rise to the gold standard set by Boston after the Marathon bombing," said Dr. Brian Oliver, president of the Utah Chapter of ACEP. "Few disasters come with warnings, which is why we need policies in place to make sure our state is ready for anything at any time."
Utah improved its grade in Medical Liability Environment from a C to a B- since 2009, and moved from 23rd in the nation to 14th in this category. It passed liability protections for those who provide federally mandated care in emergency departments and put a medical liability cap on non-economic damages. To improve further, Utah should implement rules that require all expert witnesses to be of the same specialty as the defendant and licensed to practice in the state.
Although Utah improved slightly from 32nd to 28th in the country for Access to Emergency Medicine, the high rates of uninsurance and underinsurance contributed to the state's grade of D-. Medicaid fee levels for office visits are well below the national average, making it more difficult for Medicaid patients to find physicians who accept their insurance. Utah also has shortages of orthopedists, hand surgeons and registered nurses.
"To improve access to care, Utah must make adequate health insurance a top priority, especially for children," said Dr. Oliver. "Utah policymakers must take action to ensure that this vulnerable population is able to receive needed medical care in a timely manner."
"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+.
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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