Kentucky Press Release


Embargoed For Release at 11 am (ET)
January 16, 2014

Media Contact:
Julie Lloyd, 202-370-9292 
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WASHINGTON — Kentucky received a near-failing grade of D and was ranked 47th in the nation in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment (“Report Card”). It also ranked in the bottom half of the country in four categories out of five.

“You know Kentucky has a problem when the best grade on a report card is a C,” said Dr. Ryan Stanton, president of the Kentucky Chapter of ACEP. “Out of five categories, we received two F’s and two Ds for our support of emergency patients. That is unacceptable.”

Kentucky’s two failing grades were in Quality and Patient Safety Environment (ranked 43rd) and Medical Liability Environment (ranked 48th).

The failing quality grade is explained by Kentucky’s lack of some state-level protocols that can ensure that emergency patients receive life-saving care, such as a uniform system for providing pre-arrival instructions. The state also lacks triage and destination policies for heart attack patients. According to the Report Card, the state could improve this grade by developing and implementing statewide emergency response policies to improve and standardize care.

Kentucky’s Medical Liability Environment grade reflects the lack of basic liability reforms, such as apology inadmissibility laws that prevent a physician’s apology from being admissible in court. According to the Report Card, the state could improve its grade by implementing expert witness rules and liability protections for care mandated by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires physicians to provide lifesaving care.

Kentucky received a D in Public Health and Injury Prevention (ranked 34th). The state has the highest rate of adult smoking in the country and among the highest rates of adult and child obesity. It received a D in Disaster Preparedness (33rd) in part because of the lack of per capita disaster preparedness funding ($5.03).

The one bright spot was Kentucky’s 12th place ranking in Access to Emergency Care, for which it received a C. This is an improvement from its 19th place finish in this category in 2009, the last time ACEP’s Report Card was issued. Kentucky has one of the nation’s highest per capita rates of psychiatric care beds and the state has a low rate of unmet need for substance abuse treatment. The state has increased Medicaid fee levels for office visits by 58 percent since 2007, although those payments are still well below the national average.

“Kentucky is effectively a judicial hellhole for physicians because of our poisonous liability environment,” said Dr. Stanton “We must have some protections for physicians who provide lifesaving care without a preexisting patient relationship and little to no knowledge of a patient’s medical history. Improvements in this area could help Kentucky attract and retain sufficient medical professionals.”

“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.


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