For millions of Americans who experience sudden, serious illness or injury every year—and in the increasing scores of communities that must respond to disasters and mass casualty events —immediate access to quality emergency care is essential to saving life and limb. But the availability of that care is threatened by a wide range of factors, including shrinking capacity and an ever-increasing demand for services. Even as more and more Americans come to rely on emergency departments for their acute care needs, particularly aging and sick Boomers and people newly enrolled in Medicaid, such care will increasingly become harder to access.
This national Report Card rates the overall environment in which the emergency care system operates with a near-failing grade of D+. This is a poorer grade than the one earned in 2009, a C-.
These findings are the result of a comprehensive and focused study of the emergency care environment nationwide and state-by-state.
New Mexico continues to struggle with many aspects of the emergency care environment, facing high rates of fatal injuries; health care workforce shortages for specialists, primary care, and other providers; and a Medical Liability Environment that serves as a barrier to recruiting and retaining health care professionals.
Poor Access to Emergency Care has negatively affected the quality of care in New Mexico, resulting in long ED wait times, boarding of patients in the ED, and crowding.
State by State Comparison (Report Excerpts)
Within each of the letter grades in 2014, many states fall below the average, threatening to drop further if major and immediate improvements are not made. New Mexico’s overall grade is a D.
The national grade for Access to Emergency Care remains a D- as states continue to struggle with a plethora of issues, including health care workforce shortages, shortages of on-call specialists, limited hospital capacity to meet the needs of patients, long emergency department wait times, and increasing financial barriers to care. New Mexico’s Access to Emergency Care grade is an F.
The nation continues to fare best in the Quality and Patient Safety Environment category, as many states have implemented systems and protocols to improve life-saving care and to facilitate effective and efficient systems of care. Despite improvements for a number of states in this category, the nation receives a C overall, representing a slight decline since 2009. New Mexico’s Quality and Patient Safety Environment grade is a D+.
The Medical Liability Environment in the United States is still in crisis and threatens to further diminish the availability of on-call specialists and other providers in states where the risks of lawsuit or costs of liability insurance are prohibitive. The nation again receives a C- for its overall Medical Liability Environment— however, while this indicates that the nation has failed to make progress, it does not mean nothing has changed. New Mexico’s Medical Liability Environment grade is a D-.
The Public Health and Injury Prevention category is unique in that the overall focus is on areas where state systems and initiatives can preemptively have a tremendous impact on improving health outcomes and ultimately reduce the overall need for emergency care. One example of this is immunizations for children and the elderly—reducing the number of people susceptible to contagious disease will ultimately save lives and prevent cases from reaching the emergency department, leaving the health care system available for other emergent needs. New Mexico’s Public Health and Injury Prevention grade is a D+.
While the states overall have continued to improve and refine their disaster preparedness planning and practices, the national grade has fallen slightly to a C-. This is due, in large part, to wide variations across the states in hospital capacity and personnel preparedness. New Mexico’s Disaster Preparedness grade is a D.