South Carolina falling behind in emergency care - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

South Carolina falling behind in emergency care, report card shows

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – South Carolina ranks among the worst in the country in terms of access to care, public health and disaster preparedness, according to a recent study by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

According to the report, South Carolina's grade has worsened in its overall emergency care environment due to the state's failing grades in access to emergency care, public health and injury prevention, and disaster preparedness.

ACEP ranked South Carolina last in the nation in public health and injury prevention, citing poor public health services and the failure of the state legislature to pass new laws that would improve public health.

"For instance, while the state has some of the highest rates of traffic fatalities, bicyclist fatalities, and pedestrian fatalities, it has not passed legislation banning texting or handheld cellphone use for all drivers," the report reads. "The state is also one of only seven to have failed to pass any antismoking legislation to discourage smoking and reduce second-hand smoke exposure in restaurants, bars, and worksites."

The report also cites the high rates of childhood and adult obesity, 30.8 and 21.5 percent respectively.

The state also failed in its lack of access to emergency care due to growing financial obstacles to get care for many of the state's residents, the report card reads. The rate of uninsured children has risen since the last report card; nearly 20 percent of children with insurance are considered underinsured by the report.

The report card also says that only 2.1 doctors accept Medicare per 100 beneficiaries, the fifth lowest rate in the country.

Perhaps the most damning criticism of the state's emergency care is ACEP's review of the state's disaster preparedness. The report says the Palmetto State lacks key policies and gets by with limited resources and hospital capacity for a disaster or mass casualty event.

"The state has one of the lowest bed surge capacities and per capita rates of burn unit beds in the nation," the criticism reads. "South Carolina does not require training in disaster management and response for hospital and EMS personnel, and only 31.9 percent of registered nurses reported receiving training related to disaster response."

ACEP says the state also lacks legislation that would protect health care workers and their sponsors in a disaster.

However, South Carolina is among the best in medical liability protections and has seen a "dramatic" drop in the average malpractice award since 2009. It is currently the tenth lowest in the nation, ACEP reports.

South Carolina's grade in quality and patient safety also improved since the 2009 report card, due in part to EMS personnel being able to bypass hospitals to take emergency patients to specialty centers.

Also, the study found that 97 percent of people suffering a cardiac emergency are being treated within 90 minutes. The state also appears to be developing a diversity plan for care, ACEP found.

ACEP said the state needs to work to ensure that the residents of the state have access to the doctors, specialty care, and services they need while also addressing the problems of fatalities on the roadways.

Read the full report on all 50 state here: http://www.emreportcard.org/uploadedFiles/EMReportCard2014.pdf

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