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Emergency Room errors may increase as conditions deteriorate

Sadly, it has become common knowledge that anyone that goes to the emergency room can expect a long wait to be seen by a doctor in most cases. Similarly, it's not entirely unheard of for New York ER patients to go unnoticed and unattended for hours at a time. That's why the results of a new study grading the overall condition of emergency rooms around the country might not surprise some, even though they may be a testament to the prevalence of ER medical malpractice cases across the nation.

In the recent survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, states were graded on over 130 conditions that contribute to the overall emergency room experience. Components like policies, guidelines and ER practices were factored in, and an overall grade was determined. As a whole, the national average was subpar, and many states saw their grades go down.

One interesting factor that seemed to affect the condition of emergency care provided was the quality of medical malpractice liability coverage offered to ER physicians. The states with the highest malpractice premiums received failing grades. Similarly, states’ overall grades were affected by the amount of Medicaid reimbursement they offered to physicians.

Because patients that have limited access to primary care doctors and specialty physicians can end up relying on emergency room care, overcrowding becomes a major issue. In fact, within a 15 year period, ER visits increased by more than 30 percent and emergency department wait times also increased exponentially.

Now that there is evidence to suggest ER physicians are taking on more cases than ever before, concerns must be raised over the quality of care given to patients under such strained conditions.

Source: philly.com, “Report finds ERs in crisis: Pa. Better than most, N.J. worse,” Don Sapatkin, Jan. 18, 2014

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