Wisconsin Press Release


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

Media Contact:
Laura Gore, 202-370-9290 
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WASHINGTON — Wisconsin ranked 21st in the nation with an overall C- in the American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment (“Report Card”). The state slid from 17th place in 2009 to 39th place in the category of Disaster Preparedness.

“Wisconsin’s failing grade for Disaster Preparedness is frankly a disaster,” said Dr. Nester Rodriguez, president of the Wisconsin Chapter of ACEP. “Our policymakers must focus on raising our disaster preparedness efforts to the gold standard set by Boston after the Marathon bombing. We are losing ground because we are not keeping pace with other states’ improvements to their disaster planning and policies.”

According to the Report Card, the state lacks a statewide medical communication system with redundancy and a statewide patient tracking system. It also has a low rate of intensive care beds. An increase in hospital capacity could help Wisconsin improve this grade by improving the surge capacity that is essential in a disaster.

Wisconsin’s best grade, a C+ and 18th place ranking, was for its Medical Liability Environment. The state has implemented caps on non-economic damages but still it could improve by making provider apologies inadmissible as evidence.

Wisconsin also received a C+, ranking 20th in the nation, in the category of Public Health and Injury Prevention, which is a significant improvement from its 31st place showing and D+ in 2009. The state improved its rate of childhood immunizations to 5th best in the country and has dedicated funding for injury prevention. On the negative side, Wisconsin has close to the worst rate of binge drinking in the country, which could be improved by public education and better access to behavioral health resources.

Wisconsin also improved from 26th place in 2009 in the category of Access to Emergency Care, though at 19th place still only received a C-. The state has a critical shortage of mental health care providers and more than 10 percent of the state’s population has unmet needs for substance abuse treatment. Wisconsin has a below-average rate of staffed inpatient beds and one of the country’s lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates. The state could improve its grade by increasing this rate so that Wisconsin can recruit and retain physicians willing to treat this vulnerable population, particularly in view of the increasing numbers of people who be insured by Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

A lack of funding for quality improvement within the emergency medical services system contributed to Wisconsin’s 31st place showing and C- grade in the category of Quality and Patient Safety Environment. The state could improve this grade by implementing a uniform system for providing pre-arrival instructions as well as triage and destination policies for stroke and heart attack patients.

“Putting such policies in place would help ensure that these critically ill patients receive the time-sensitive, evidence-based care they need for better outcomes,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

“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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