EM Report Card: Maryland Ranks #1 in Emergency Room Quality, But Work Still to Do In Other Areas

ACEP’s national EM Report Card, released today, puts Maryland emergency rooms number one in the nation in quality and patient safety. Maryland also ranks high when it comes to public health & injury prevention and disaster preparedness, but still has a lot of work to do on its medical liability environment and access to emergency care.

“The state has enacted multiple policies and procedures to ensure that its patients receive swift and effective care, including triage and destination policies for trauma, stroke, and T-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients,” the report states. ACEP also gives Maryland high marks for maintaining a statewide trauma registry and having a high adoption rate of electronic medical records for hospitals. A press release from ACEP notes that the analysis evaluates conditions under which emergency care is being delivered, not the quality of care provided by hospitals and emergency providers.

But overcrowding in the ER remains a serious problem in Maryland. The report ranks the state 23rd overall in access to emergency room care, citing Maryland’s high median wait time average (367 minutes from ED arrival to departure for admitted patients), high occupancy rate, and low number of Emergency Departments per capita.

“The fact is, in many hospitals the emergency department operates in its own little silo,” said MEP CEO Angelo Falcone. “This contributes to a lack of cooperation between hospital administrations and emergency care groups. What is really needed is a strong partnership between hospitals and emergency management teams to make the sorts of inter-departmental throughput improvements that can ultimately have a huge impact on reducing wait times in the ER.”

The report card’s biggest criticism however is with Maryland medical liability environment, which ranks a dismal 47th in the nation, an even worse showing than the 39th ranking it received in 2009. The report recommends lowering the state’s liability insurance rates and malpractice awards as well as strengthening the state’s physician apology law.