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Maryland Ranks First in the Nation for Quality and Patient Safety, Ranks Near Bottom for Medical Liability Environment

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Maryland ranked highly in three out of five categories, earning a description as a "statewide model of emergency care," but received an overall C grade in the American College of Emergency Physicians' (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America's emergency care environment ("Report Card"). The state ranked 10th in the nation, slipping from its 4th place ranking in 2009, related to low grades in the categories of Access to Emergency Care and Medical Liability Environment.

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The state received its highest grade of A in the category of Quality and Patient Safety Environment, because it has enacted multiple policies and procedures to ensure that patients receive swift and effective care, including triage and destination policies for trauma and stroke patients.  The state also did well in the categories of Disaster Preparedness and Public Health and Injury Prevention.

At the same time, Maryland earned a D in the category of Access to Emergency Care. According to the Report Card, the state has one of the longest emergency department wait times (367 minutes from arrival to departure for admitted patients) and a high hospital occupancy rate (74.7 per 100 staffed beds). Maryland also has few emergency departments per capita (8.3 per 1 million people), despite relatively high rates of emergency physicians.

"Maryland has strong commitments to public health, patient safety and disaster preparedness, which are reflected in this report card," said Dr. David Hexter, president of the Maryland Chapter of ACEP. "However, our state has one of the highest average medical liability insurance premiums for specialists and not kept pace with advances in medical liability reform and faces hospital capacity shortages."

The Report Card had recommendations for improvement that included:

  • Enact medical liability reforms that include lowering the state's high medical liability insurance rates and strengthening the state's weak apology law to prevent physician apologies from being admissible in court liability cases.   
  • Increase capacity for emergency care and reduce patient crowding in emergency departments.
  • Reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities and high rates of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

"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)

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