Three F's For Texas: Report Card On Nation's Emergency Care Released

Members of the American College of Emergency Physicians call the state of emergency care in the U.S. “alarming.” They gave the nation a D+ on support for emergency care.

Dr. Alex Rosenau is the president of ACEP.

“The role of emergency care is expanding. And this report card is saying, the nation’s policies are failing to support emergency patients.”

Texas fits right in with an overall grade of D+ of its own. It received three F’s, for access to emergency care, quality and patient safety, and public health and injury prevention.

The state ranks 38th in the nation overall.

Arlo Weltge is an emergency physician, who practices in the Texas Medical Center.

“This is a big red flag for Texas. We have seen a significant drop in the way our state compared to other states handles the emergency care environment. And it’s on multiple different levels.”

Five years ago, when the organization last ranked the nation’s emergency care, Texas was 29th with an overall grade of C.

Weltge says what most concerns him is the F on access to care.

“Texas — Houston — has one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. We also have one of the least well-funded Medicaid services in the country. And so what that means is there’s a big part of our citizens in this area that don’t have access to timely and appropriate both preventative care and primary care.”

And that, he says, leads to more severe illnesses and a higher dependence on emergency care services. Weltge hopes state officials are paying attention to the results of the report card and will try to change them.

“I think what would be most valuable is the recognition that these services are weak or not being adequately supported. That’s something the Legislature and then really all levels of government — whether it’s county or city — need to realize that these are services that are important and we can’t let them degrade to the point where we could be facing a disaster.”

But it’s not all bad news for the Lone Star State. It improved from 41st to 21st place in the category “disaster preparedness,” earning a C as compared to a D+ in 2009.

And the state received an A for its medical liability environment. Texas has a $250,000 medical liability cap and other liability protections. This is also credited with attracting large numbers of emergency physicians and specialists to the state.

The report card is not a reflection of individual services but how a state supports the emergency care environment.

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