Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oregon Almost Flunks on Emergency Care

The American College of Emergency Physicians has issued its annual report card for all the states, and Oregon's grades are not the kind you'd be

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 4:18 PM

The American College of Emergency Physicians has issued its annual report card for all the states, and Oregon's grades are not the kind you'd be proud to show your parents.

Overall the state got a grade of D, coming in 47th out of 50. The physicians' group gave us a D+ in quality of care and patient safety, a D- in medical liability, a D in disaster preparedness and a big fat F in access to emergency care.

The only category in which Oregon scored pretty well (getting a B) was in public health and injury prevention, mainly because Oregonians evidently smoke and binge-drink less than average, tend to use their seatbelts and are more likely to get vaccinations.

"Access to all types of medical care in Oregon poses serious concerns," the report says. "For instance, the state has higher-than-average rates of uninsured adults and children. More than 13% of children and 19% of adults in Oregon are uninsured, compared to national rates of 11.7% and 17.2%, respectively. The state also has the third lowest rate of staffed inpatient beds (210.8 per 100,000 people)."

George W. Bush has assured us there's no health care problem in America - if you get sick, just go to the emergency room. But that's easier said than done. Overall, the physicians' group gave the nation a grade of D- on access to emergency care. Among the problems the group cited are:

  • "Boarding" of patients in emergency departments (i.e., making patients wait on gurneys in the hall because there aren't enough rooms for them) and hospital crowding
  • Lack of adequate access to on-call specialists
  • Limited access to primary care services
  • Shortages of emergency physicians and nurses
  • Inadequate reimbursement from public insurers
  • High rates of uninsured patients

The report is "a national disgrace," the organization's president, Dr. Nicholas Jouriles, told MSNBC. "The nation's emergency physicians have diagnosed the condition and prescribed the treatment. It's time to get serious and take the medicine."

Interesting footnote: This week The Eye read in our AARP magazine (yes, we are an old fart) about a young woman who went to an emergency room in Dallas with a broken leg, waited 19 hours without being treated, finally went home in disgust ... and later received a bill for $162 for having her temperature and blood pressure taken when she came in.

The people who tell us that America has "the best health care system in the world" are the same idiots who told us Wall Street didn't need any regulation.

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