Pennsylvania Ranks 6th in the Nation for Policies that Support Emergency Patients

Jan 16, 2014, 10:50 ET from American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania ranked sixth in the nation with a C+ in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians' (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America's emergency care environment ("Report Card"). The state has made significant improvements in the category of Access to Emergency Care, which contributed to the ranking, despite declines in three out of five other categories since 2009.


"Pennsylvania's high ranking for Access to Emergency Care reflects dedication and hard work on the part of our state's policymakers and medical workforce," said Dr. Charles Barbera, president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of ACEP. "However, our state has seen decreases in the number of emergency departments, staffed inpatient beds and psychiatric care beds. These losses have led to increased crowding in Pennsylvania's emergency departments, which is detrimental to patients." 

Pennsylvania, ranked 23rd with a C- in the 2009 Report Card, this year earned a B+ and came in second in the nation for Access to Emergency Care. The state has below-average shortages of health care providers and rates of underinsurance for both adults and children. The state also has a relatively low proportion of adults with an unmet need for substance abuse treatment. On the negative side, Pennsylvania should adopt a statewide psychiatric bed registry to help cope with the decrease in psychiatric care beds.

The state's best grade, an A and 3rd place ranking for Quality and Patient Safety Environment, is attributed to statewide systems and policies in place for heart attack, stroke and trauma patients. It also supports the fourth highest rate of emergency medicine residents in the country.

Pennsylvania earned a C- for Public Health and Injury Prevention because of high infant mortality rates and unintentional poisoning deaths. Above average rates of smoking among adults indicates a need to strengthen the current smoking ban in restaurants and bars.

Pennsylvania's Disaster Preparedness ranking suffered a significant decline from the 2009 Report Card, dropping from 4th place with an A to 17th place with a C+. The state suffered heavy declines in bed surge capacity, intensive care unit beds, burn unit beds and the proportion of nurses who reported receiving disaster preparedness training since 2009.

Pennsylvania earned an F for Medical Liability Environment, in part because it lacks additional protections for lifesaving care mandated by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The state's eventual statutorily mandated phase-out of the liability insurance program, MCARE, could require physicians and hospitals to assume the program's $1.3 billion unfunded liability. Pennsylvania must work to adopt a clear and convincing standard for EMTALA-related care to improve the Medical Liability Environment.

"The problems Pennsylvania has with liability protections for physicians who provide emergency care, as required by law, cast a dark cloud," said Dr. Barbera. "We want Pennsylvania to continue to attract and retain the best and the brightest medical providers, so we must create an liability environment that will do that."

"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.

SOURCE American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)