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Medical News & Perspectives
March 12, 2014

Report Card Gives US Emergency Care System a D+

JAMA. 2014;311(10):1001-1002. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.1146

A man with severe mental illness waits for days in a Georgia emergency department for an inpatient psychiatric patient bed. An overbooked primary care physician sends a woman with a urinary tract infection to a Chicago emergency department. An uninsured Wyoming man is rushed to the emergency department with complications from untreated diabetes.

Emergency departments across the country are feeling the strain of patient loads that have increased from about 108 million visits in the year 2000 to about 130 million in 2010, according to the most recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. In fact, a new report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) gave the US emergency care system an overall grade of D+, and nearly half of the states received a grade of D or lower. The report card outlines how failures in the larger health care system contribute to problems in the emergency department.

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