North Carolina Press Release


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

Media Contact:
Mike Baldyga, 202-370-9288 
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WASHINGTON — North Carolina received an overall C and ranked 13th in the nation in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) state-by-state report card on the emergency care environment (“Report Card”).The state has made excellent progress in improving its medical liability environment, but it does not have enough emergency departments or staffed in-patient hospital beds, which contributed to its D grade in the category of Access to Emergency Care. 

“North Carolina received high marks for improving quality and patient safety and our medical liability environment, which will help us attract and retain physicians in our state,” said Dr. Stephen Small, president of the North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians. “However, the number of physicians accepting Medicare has dropped in our state, and the wait times are too long in our emergency departments. We need to reduce the high occupancy rates in hospitals and increase the psychiatric care beds in our state.”

The C- in the category of Public Health and Injury Preventing reflects a mix of adequate and poor performance. According to the Report Card, North Carolina has relatively high rates of elderly getting vaccinated, but only 75 percent of children receive the full schedule of immunizations. That is down from 84 percent in 2009. North Carolina also has higher-than-average obesity rates among adults and children, contributing to an overburdened medical system.

North Carolina received a C in the category of Disaster Preparedness. Only about a third of registered nurses in the state have received training in emergency preparedness, compared to about 40 percent nationally.

The state’s highest grade came in the area of the Quality and Patient Safety Environment. North Carolina earned an A- partially for having implemented a prescription drug monitoring program. Also, nearly all (97 percent) of the state’s hospitals have electronic medical records.

The Report Card’s recommendations for improvement included:
  • Increase the immunization rate for children.
  • Maintain the current medical liability reforms and consider additional reforms, such as abolishing joint and several liability.
  • Work with hospitals to increase the availability of psychiatric care beds and expand access to community mental health services. 
“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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