Emergency for Emergency Rooms

The American College of Emergency Physicians just published its 2009 National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine, which ranks emergency rooms across the nation. The study assesses five criteria, including access to emergency care, quality and patient safety environment, medical liability environment, public health and injury prevention, and disaster preparedness.

How did Oregon do? Well, not very well. Oregon ranked below average. In fact, Oregon was ranked 47th out of 51 states. Though Oregon was near the bottom, the rest of the U.S. didn’t fare much better. The nation earned the sad grade of C-, and 90 percent of states earned substandard or near-failing grades. Of the five categories examined in the study, the lowest was in access to emergency care, with a national grade of D-. A number of issues contributed to this poor grade, including medical liability issues, understaffing (many specialists are leaving emergency rooms in favor of surgical centers or specialty medical hospitals), and health insurance matters, such as lower reimbursement.

Oregon fared particularly poorly in access to emergency care (Oregon received an F) and disaster preparedness but managed to score among the top ten states in public health and injury prevention. To hear more about Oregon’s ranking, listen to the December 9, 2008, edition of OPB’sThink Out Loud.