WASHINGTON — Wyoming grades for not supporting emergency patients has ranked it last in the nation, having received an F in the American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment (“Report Card”). Failing grades in four out of five categories mark a steep decline from the same report issued in 2009, when the Wyoming was ranked 42nd in the nation and received a grade of D+.
“The findings in this report should be alarming to everyone involved in making healthcare policy for our state,” said
Dr. Waseem Khawaja, president of the Wyoming Chapter of ACEP. “Wyoming has nowhere to go but up, and this is a wakeup call to our state’s policymakers. Our patients deserve so much better.”
Wyoming ranked last in the nation for its Quality and Patient Safety Environment, which is largely due to a lack of state-level investment in quality improvements in the emergency medical services system. In Access to Emergency Care, the state dropped from 13th to 33rd in the country and received a grade of F. According to the Report Card, health care workforce shortages, along with high rates of patients who are under-insured, are creating barriers to medical care. Wyoming has the second high proportion of uninsured children in the country.
The failing grade for Public Health and Injury Prevention is largely attributed to the high rate of traffic fatalities (the highest in the country), high rates of homicide and suicide and extremely low rates of vaccination. Ranked 47th in Disaster Preparedness, Wyoming lacks statewide policies and plans designed to overcome the challenges created by geography: In this large and rural state, only one-third of the state’s population is within 60 minutes of a trauma center.
Only slightly better was the state’s grade for its Medical Liability Environment. Wyoming moved from 42nd in the nation to 38th in this category with a D- because of new protections for physicians who provide emergency care, including the institution of mandatory pretrial screening panels to discourage lawsuits that lack merit.
“Our state needs to make investments in emergency care a top priority, especially in view of the continuing uncertainty of health care reform,” said Dr. Khawaja. “We need to build on the strengths we already have, such as robust hospital capacity and the relatively short time patients spend in ERs.”
“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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