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CT Shows Mixed Results in Emergency Care Survey

Connecticut’s performance in the 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians’ state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment released today shows mixed results, with grades in categories ranging from a B+ to a D.

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“Our low rates of fatal injuries and the general good health of our residents are to be commended,” said Jorge Otero, president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians. “However, people are waiting almost six hours for emergency care. The best medicine in the world doesn’t help you if you can’t get to it in a timely manner.”

The state’s strongest grade, a B+ in the Public Health and Injury Prevention category, results from low rates of accidental firearm-related deaths, accidental poisoning deaths, fatal occupational injuries, homicides, suicides, smoking and obesity.

In the category of Access to Emergency Care, Connecticut earned a C-. It has one of the highest rates of Level I or II trauma centers in the country, but hospitals have one of the highest occupancy rates in the nation. Waits in the ER are the sixth longest in the country, which is due in part to having a relatively small number of emergency departments, the report said.

A high percentage of hospitals in Connecticut use electronic medical records and the state has implemented a prescription drug monitoring program, which resulted in a grade of C+ for Quality and Patient Safety Environment.

Connecticut ranked in the bottom half of the country for both Disaster Preparedness, with a C-, and Medical Liability Environment, with a D. While other states generally have upgraded and improved their ability to respond to disasters, Connecticut has not kept pace with policies and procedures that could enhance its ability to respond quickly to a large-scale disaster, the report said.

The 32rd place showing for Connecticut in Medical Liability Environment is largely due to the extremely high insurance premiums for physicians who practice in the state; the average premium for primary care physicians is more than $10,000 higher than the national average.

“We need significant liability protections in order to retain good physicians here and to discourage defensive medicine,” said Otero. “Connecticut must invest in more hospital infrastructure to ensure that it keeps up with demand for care every day and during disasters.”

“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 the United States 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+.

Dallas, Texas-based ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine.

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