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Florida scores an “F” on access to trauma care, says new report

By on February 4, 2014
trauma center

States are graded on a lot of things: their 50 different educational systems, tax measures, obesity rates, you name it. One report stands out as particularly comprehensive: the American College of Emergency Physicians state-by-state assessment of emergency care environments.

How did Florida fare in the 2014 report, released this week?

Here’s the good news first: Florida’s rank improved by one position from 2009 to today. Here’s the bad news: instead of being the worst in the nation, Florida is now the second worst. In both years, Florida “earned” an “F” rating from the organization for its most important measure of access to emergency care.

“Florida faces a triple challenge in Access to Emergency Care: physician shortages, insufficient hospital capacity, and a lack of adequate health insurance coverage,” the report states, going on to note that Florida has inadequate supplies of critical need specialists such as neurosurgeons, orthopedists, and emergency physicians. Florida is also noted to have few psychiatric care beds and emergency departments, both of which contribute to long emergency room wait times, and too few insurers writing medical liability policies. Despite some notable tort reforms in recent years, Florida still lacks pretrial screening panels — something that would help discourage frivolous lawsuits. 

Florida fared well in 2009 for Quality and Patient Safety aspects of the report, scoring an A- and ranking No. 10 in the nation on these metrics. But for 2014, Florida has fallen to No. 17 in the nation and earned a mediocre C+ — sadly, its highest grade among of any factor on the scale. 

By far the most important improvement to Florida’s care environment would be to address the many shortfalls preventing greater access to emergency care: workforce, tort reforms, health insurance coverage, and  the building of trauma and emergency centers. 

Only with those efforts will Florida have the potential of bumping up from its deplorable rank of “F” by the time the next report is issued in 2019.