Illinois emergency care services receive near failing grade

By WEEK Reporter

January 22, 2014 Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 12:18 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Emergency care in the nation is near failing.

A recent report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians gives the United States a D+.

The report card measures conditions and policies under which emergency care is delivered, not the quality of care provided.

The report card has 136 measures in five categories: access to emergency care, quality and patient safety, medical liability environment, public health and injury prevention and disaster preparedness.

Twenty-one states received F's in access to emergency care.

Thirteen states received F's in disaster preparedness.

Illinois' emergency care received a D on the American College of Emergency Physicians report card.

That's down from a C in 2009 and drops the state to 45th in the nation.

Dr. John Hafner at OSF St. Francis Medical Center said a lack of primary care doctors in Illinois hurts that grade.

The need for those doctors will increase even more with the Affordable Care Act.

ER's often are used as a safety net for patients without insurance or those without access to primary care.

Dr. Hafner said when emergency rooms see an increase in patients -- it can be difficult for them to have easy access to care.

"There are certainly things that the state and the national and medical environments could do improve access to care and improve public health scenarios so that people don't have to come to the emergency room department," said Dr. John Hafner. "Health policy at the higher level would really help at the lower lever like the emergency department."

Those public health improvements include an increase in immunization rates in children and adults and increasing overall preventative rates.

Along with the fact that Illinois continues to lose doctors and nurses to other states because of medical liability issues.

And while Illinois received an F in disaster preparedness, down from an A-, Dr. Hafner believes Central Illinois proved itself when it sprung into action after the November tornadoes.

A big reason for the grade, failure to pass proposed state legislation enhancing immunity for health care responders during a disaster.

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