The first-ever “report card” on emergency medicine in the U.S. gives most states very low or failing grades for their emergency rooms — including Iowa which got a “C-plus.” Only nine states ranked better than that. Doctor Hans House says the report card by the American College of Emergency Physicians took into account factors like the ever-increasing number of people coming into hospital emergency rooms, and how many doctors are there to treat them.
Iowa has very few board-certified emergency physicians, fewer than the number of hospitals in the state. He says what’s needed is a local program to train and certify them — which we now have. The 2-year-old residency program for emergency physicians will graduate its first class in 2007, the first time they’ve been able to finish up their training in Iowa. Even people who grew up here had to go out of the state after medical school to get that final training, the residency, somewhere else. Then the challenge was trying to lure them to move back, which won’t be a problem any more now they’re training here. House explains people tend to work wherever they’ve finished their medical training.
One of the concerns was how emergency doctors would handle a big influx of patients during a Homeland Security disaster or attack. The quality and patient-safety categories included the disaster-preparedness outlook and it was one of Iowa’s strong points — he says we got an A-minus in that. The state got low marks, however, for its high cost of malpractice insurance.
That’s the cost of malpractice insurance that not only emergency-room docs but specialists have to pay, as House explains if neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and other specialty physicians have to pay high rates, it’ll be harder to get them to come help out with cases in the emergency room. Dr. House is program director of the University of Iowa’s Emergency Medicine Program
Weblink: National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine