Alabama, Georgia earn failing grades in new health care report card

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 17, 2014 

The American College of Emergency Physicians has released its 2014, state-by-state report card on America’s emergency care environment.

Georgia got a D+, ranking 29th in the country overall.

(Washington, D.C. ranked at No. 1; Wyoming ranked at No. 51.)

ACEP's report card "evaluates conditions under which emergency care is being delivered, not the quality of care provided by hospitals and emergency providers," the organization said in a release. It includes 136 measures in five categories.

Georgia got failing or near-failing grades in three of the five: access to emergency care (F), public health and injury prevention (D+) and disaster preparedness (D+); its passing grades came in quality and patient safety environment (C) and medical liability (B-). The majority of these grades are lower than ACEP's last report card, in 2009.

ACEP said in a release, "(Georgia) has some of the lowest immunization rates in the country for influenza and pneumonia and very high rates of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities. In addition, Georgia’s ability to respond to disasters is seriously compromised because it is nearly last in the nation for physicians, nurses and behavioral health professionals being registered in the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals."

Georgia's best grade, in medical liability, came "in part because it prohibits apologies by providers from being used as evidence of wrongdoing and because it has enacted additional liability protections for care provided in the emergency department."

The news is worse for Alabama, which got a D and ranked 44th in the country overall. The state received an F in access to emergency care, a C in quality and patient safety environment, a D in medical liability, an F in public health and injury prevention and a C+ disaster preparedness.

How did it rank so much lower than Georgia? Not all five categories are weighted equally, and Alabama ranked badly in the categories that weighed the most: access to emergency care (30 percent) and medical liability (20 percent). Its ranking is also a drop from 2009, when Alabama was ranked 38th overall.

Neither state is alone with its bad news: overall, the country earned a D+.

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