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Massachusetts Ranks Second in the Nation for Policies that Support Emergency Patients

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Massachusetts is the second highest ranked state in the nation for its overall emergency medical care system. The state received a B- in the American College of Emergency Physicians' (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America's emergency care environment ("Report Card").

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The state has committed to access to care, injury prevention, public health, and safe and effective quality care. However, Massachusetts has fallen behind with regard to its Medical Liability Environment and has not improved in Disaster Preparedness.

"The people of Massachusetts understand better than most that emergencies can happen anywhere at any time, especially following the Boston Marathon bombings and the well-organized medical response to the victims," said Dr. Nathan MacDonald, president of the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians. "Given the uncertainties of health care reform, emergency care has never been more important than it is right now."  

Massachusetts ranked first in the nation in the category of Public Health and Injury Prevention, earning an A. This is because of dedicated funding for injury prevention for both children and the elderly as well as low rates of fatal injuries.

The Quality and Patient Safety Environment grade was a B+. Massachusetts maintains a statewide trauma registry and has triage and destination policies in place for trauma or stroke, which allow Emergency Medical Services teams to bypass local hospitals for medical specialty centers.

Massachusetts also has good Access to Emergency Care. The state has high per capita rates of specialists, emergency physicians and registered nurses, as well as the lowest rates of adults and children with no health insurance. It is fourth in the nation in that category with a B.

In the area of Medical Liability Reform, Massachusetts is unfortunately at the bottom of the list. The state received a D- in that category and ranks 40th in the nation. It has few liability reforms in place and one of the highest average malpractice award payments in the country. Massachusetts must work to bring the state's excessive medical malpractice awards more in line with national averages.

The Report Card had recommendations for improvement that included:

  • Massachusetts should work to increase hospital capacity to ensure that acceptable levels of timely, high-quality care can continue to be provided throughout the state.
  • Massachusetts must work to improve its Medical Liability Environment. One important reform would be passing additional liability protection for Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)-mandated emergency care.

"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+.

People can see their state's grades in America's Emergency Care Environment: A State-by-State Report Card at www.emreportcard.org.

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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