Texas gets an overall grade of "C" (and an overall ranking of 21 out of 51) from a first-time review of
emergency medical care in the USA, but the average grade is
misleading. In three categories of evaluation for care of
patients, Texas gets one "D" and two "D+". Yet these poor grades
for patient care are balanced out by an "A+" for the "liability
environment" that limits a patient’s ability to sue for damages. The study by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)
reports that "Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the
nation." This means that medical costs are shifted toward hospital
emergency rooms, "yet the state’s spending on hospital care ranks near
the bottom in the nation (41st)."
"The lack of funding further reduces resources for already overcrowded
emergency departments," says ACEP. "This is evident in the state’s
shortage of board-certified emergency physicians (44th) and registered
nurses (48th) available to meet the needs of its residents."
"Texas also fell below average in the categories of Quality and
Patient Safety and Public Health and Injury Prevention," continues
ACEP. "The state fell short in its percentage of population with access
to advanced life support ambulance services (47th) and its percentage
of pre-hospital personnel with access to online medical direction
(42nd). Texas also ranked in the bottom 10 in immunization of children
Ah, but the legislature does take good care of the doctors who are
working here, not by upgrading their ability to treat patients, but by
protecting them against liability claims.
"Texas is the paragon for medical liability reform due to its
$250,000 cap on non-economic damages," says ACEP. "In addition, state
lawmakers have adopted helpful measures such as liability protection in
emergency care and joint liability reform. The reforms are working. A
year ago, Texas hospitals were hit with an average 54 percent hike in
their liability costs. This year, with the new damage cap in place,
these same hospitals are slashing their liability costs by 17 percent.
All five of the state’s largest physician insurers have announced rate
cuts. The improved climate has helped, and should continue to help
attract physicians, especially in emergency medicine, to Texas."
ACEP recommends that Texas "increase its number of board-certified
emergency physicians, and its improved medical liability environment
should help. The state should expand advanced life support ambulance
services and increase spending on hospital care.
"Texas’ Public Health and Injury Prevention grade would be
bolstered significantly by an increased drive to immunize the state’s
most vulnerable citizens. The state also needs to make a concerted
effort to curb the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities."
A full report in PDF format is available from the website at http://www.acep.org .