Monday, December 15, 2008

ACEP Ranks Rhode Island #2 for Emergency Medicine

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has issued a new "report card" on emergency medicine, ranking Rhode Island second in the nation, tied with the District of Columbia for a “B-” grade overall. Massachusetts came in first, scoring a “B,” while the nation as a whole received a “C-.” The report card "paints a bleak picture of emergency medicine across the country, with conditions worsening as economic woes and a failing health care system drive more people to rely on emergency rooms for care."

According to ACEP, Rhode Island gets an “A” for quality and patient safety (as did Mass.), a “B+” for public health and injury prevention and for disaster preparedness, and a “B-” for access; but ACEP gives the state an “F” for the medical liability environment, based on Rhode Island's "resistance to tort reform." Dr. Gary Bubly, president of the Rhode Island Chapter of ACEP, while expressing pride in the No. 2 overall ranking, stated: “If the state does not enact medical liability reform, we may lose physicians to states with better environments, which will hurt access for our patients.”

The Rhode Island Association for Justice (RIAJ), however, disagrees, arguing that patient safety is actually enhanced when patients have the ability to sue for medical malpractice. The ACEP report actually backs this up, the RIAJ noted, as the 10 states with the “best liability environment” only scored “D+” on safety. Perhaps the threat of litigation helps to keep providers focused on safety and preventing mistakes.

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