State of ERs may affect medical malpractice rates

Millions of people around the country are living day to day without medical coverage. As a result, many people avoid and delay seeking medical attention for illnesses and injuries until they feel it is absolutely necessary. New evidence suggesting that emergency room departments across the nation are struggling to meet the needs of an influx in patients also raises concerns about a potential decline in patient care and an adverse increase in medical malpractice incidents.

A recent study conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians considered over 130 elements that contribute to the overall emergency room environment and care provided. When looking at conditions like emergency care practices and guidelines, the study found that ER departments across the country are receiving subpar grades.

One major area of failure for 21 states was the price of medical malpractice premiums for doctors. The number of specialty physicians in a region can actually depend on the quality of that state’s medical liability coverage. Similarly, the study found that states that offered physicians a higher reimbursement rate for Medicaid patients also had fewer issues regarding ER overcrowding.

Other factors also contributed to emergency room conditions in various states. Within a 15 year period, emergency room visits were estimated to have increased by more than 30 percent. And wait times to be admitted into the hospital from the ER also increased considerably.

Experts note that the role of the ER is evolving as healthcare changes. For one thing, emergency room physicians are attending to more and more patients that would otherwise be seen during regular office visits. Furthermore, primary doctors are increasingly relying on ER tests and equipment to care for their patients.

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

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