State must improve emergency care

We must do more to improve both quality of and access to patient care in Connecticut. In the state-by-state report card on America's Emergency Care Environment, just released by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the state ranked 15th in the nation with a C for its support for emergency care.

Connecticut earned a C- for access to emergency care. It has one of the highest rates of Level I or II trauma centers in the country, but hospitals have one of the highest occupancy rates in the nation.

Low numbers of both staffed inpatient beds and psychiatric care beds contribute. Waits to be seen in the emergency department are the sixth longest in the country, which is due in part to the relatively small number of EDs. Lack of data which could direct improvements does nothing to improve our "Medical Liability Environment;" this category earned a D.

Last summer's findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found our state lacking in funding for quality improvement and medical oversight of our EMS system. Our legislators must make emergency care a top priority. The best medicine in the world doesn't help if you can't get to it.

Editor's note: Dr. Van Gelder is chair, EMS Committee of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians.

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