There are times when the results of an eval- uation are difficult to interpret. There are
other times when an assessment does not allow
for any legitimate conclusions to be reached or
opinions to be formed.
However, the results of a recent evaluation of
the nation’s emergency care system leave little
room for debate. Furthermore, they raise significant questions about what Americans in need
of immediate medical attention can expect
when seeking care.
In its most recent “report card,” the
American College of Emergency Physicians say the nation's emergency
care system earned a grade of “D+.” To make matters worse, the latest
mark is down from the “C-” the group gave it in its last report in 2009.
The report evaluates five categories: access to care, quality and
patient safety, liability, injury prevention, and disaster preparedness. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services also factored into the grades.
The highest mark given to an individual state was a “B-” assessed to
Washington D.C. Wyoming, on the other hand, was the lone state to
receive a failing grade.
While it should be noted that the report does not serve as an actual
measurement of the quality of care, it does indicate how providers feel
about national and state policies that affect that care.
The report shed light on concerns about lengthy patient wait times,
shortages, reduced hospital capacity, and disaster preparedness. The
low overall grade handed out by the American College of Emergency
Physicians suggests there is little doubt that providers feel strongly
about those concerns, that they are warranted, and that something must
be done to address them. There’s really no other way to interpret such
a poor grade.
Furthermore, it’s impossible not to wonder how the recent imple-
mentation of the Affordable Care Act will affect the nation’s emergency
health system. There is every reason to believe the demand for health-
care will only rise with the increased availability of insurance coverage.
How will that affect the myriad concerns about the nation's emergency
care system that were raised in this report?
In the five years between reports, the American College of Eergency
Physicians’ opinion on that system became less favorable with time.
Now that the United States is firmly entrenched in the era of the
Affordable Care Act, is it even the slightest bit reasonable to expect
their feelings about national and state policies that affect this system to
improve in the future? I’m quite afraid the answer to that question is
What's your take?
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