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January 17, 2014 | last updated January 17, 2014 11:04 am

Maine hospitals get B- in emergency care report

The American College of Emergency Physicians gave Maine hospitals a B-minus grade in its national report card, a ranking that puts the state's hospitals and emergency rooms third overall among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

But the group also gave Maine an F in the disaster-preparedness category, one of five criteria evaluated to determine each state's overall rank. Maine's other scores: Access to emergency care, B; quality and patient safety, B-plus; medical liability, C; public health and injury prevention, A-minus. Maine's overall grade went up slightly from the C-plus it received in the last national report card in 2009, when it ranked seventh nationwide.

Among Maine's strengths cited by the group:

  • Only 11 % of adults and 6.3% of children in the state have no health insurance. Additionally, only 8.2% of adults report an unmet need for substance abuse treatment.
  • A strong commitment to public health and injury prevention, with Maine having "the fourth highest per capita injury prevention funds in the nation ($1,232.77 per 1,000 people) and funding that is dedicated to preventing injuries among both children and the elderly."
  • Although Maine has a higher-than-average rate of traffic fatalities, few are alcohol-related, and the state has below-average rates of fatalities among bicyclists (2.7 per 100,000 cyclists) and pedestrians (2.0 per 100,000 pedestrians). In terms of health risk factors, Maine has relatively low rates of adult binge drinking and childhood obesity, although a high proportion of adults smoke cigarettes (22.8%).
  • Dedicated funding for quality improvement within its emergency medical services system, as well as an EMS medical director.
  • Maine hospitals are more likely than those in most other states to have adopted computerized practitioner order entry (92.3%) and electronic medical records (97.4%).

Among the group's recommendations:

  • Institute state-level policies and procedures for disaster preparedness to enhance and support regionalized efforts.
  • Strengthen the state's medical liability environment "by passing additional liability protections for care mandated by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act in which providers care for high-risk patients without a preexisting patient relationship and little to no knowledge of a patient's medical history. Instituting liability protections in these cases may attract additional specialists who provide critical on-call services to the emergency department."

Only Washington, D.C. (No. 1) and Massachusetts received al higher overall ranking than Maine. Nevada received the lowest overall rank.

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