Montana Press Release

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

Media Contact:
Mike Baldyga, 202-370-9288 
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WASHINGTON — Montana received a D and ranked 48th 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”). The state ranked among the top 10 states for its Medical Liability Environment, but received failing grades in three other categories.

“These grades are a wakeup call for Montana policymakers,” said Dr. Sarah Morgan-Edwards, president of the Montana Chapter of ACEP. “One of Montana’s worst problems is in the area of public health and injury prevention, where the state ranks dangerously high with binge drinking and alcohol-related traffic fatalities.”

The state received an F in the category of Access to Emergency Care related to having the second highest proportion of unmet needs for substance abuse treatment and one of the highest rates of children without health insurance (12.3 percent). In addition, the state had a relatively high proportion of children who could not always see a provider when needed. Despite being a large and rural state, Montana has high rates of medical specialists and hospital facilities.

Montana also received an F in the category of Disaster Preparedness and ranked 45th in the nation. The state lacks important statewide policies and procedures that would ensure a systematic approach to a disaster response. For example, Montana lacks guidance in its medical response plan specifically for medically fragile patients, including patients dependent on dialysis or medications for chronic disease.

Montana also received and F and ranks second to worst in the nation for its Quality and Patient Safety Environment. While more than 75 percent of Montana’s hospitals have electronic medical records, they have fallen behind most other states in adopting computerized practitioner order entry (59.6 percent).

The state highest grade of B was in the category of Medical Liability Environment and ranks 10th in the nation for this category. The state has implemented many reforms that help minimize frivolous lawsuits.

The Report Card’s recommendations for improvement include:

  • Enact statewide policies to ensure patient safety, quality improvement and a coordinated disaster response at the regional and local levels. These are especially needed because Montana is a large, rural state with independent counties and cities.
  • Enforce existing traffic safety laws and strengthen public health and injury prevention efforts to reduce the high rates of binge drinking and alcohol-related traffic fatalities. 
  • Strengthen traffic safety laws about seat belt use, child safety seats and distracted driving. 
  • Promote adoption in hospitals of computerized practitioner order entry. 

“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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