When it comes to emergency medical care, when split-second decisions can mean the difference between life-and-death, it’s imperative that hospitals establish strong practices and protocols to allow health care professionals to do their job effectively.
Unfortunately, Florida has been given a barely passing grade in terms of the overall state of its emergency care system, per the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Emergency Care Environment Report Card. Florida was given a C- overall, having dropped a few points from five years ago.
West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys understand that while the state has developed strong disaster preparedness plans and many hospitals have made strides in terms of patient safety, the state is plagued by a health care workforce shortage. There are also major financial barriers to care and we have a limited hospital capacity.
Researchers called the health care workforce shortage in Florida “severe,” which heightens concerns about medical malpractice incidents. Providers who who are fatigued and stretched thin are more prone to making avoidable mistakes. In an emergency care setting, that can be deadly.
Florida has a particular shortage of emergency physicians, neurosurgeons, ear, nose and throat specialists, orthopedists and registered nurses.
Especially troubling, Florida ranks very last in the country for children’s accessibility to health care providers.
This is compounded by the fact that there has been a lack of Medicaid expansion in the state, and we already had one of the greatest needs for additional primary care providers in the country. That need is only growing as our population expands.
What has also been a major problem is the lack of psychiatric care beds, which are just 13.3 per population of 100,000. This means that those with psychiatric problems may have those illnesses untreated, which contributes not only to the decline of mental and physical health for the individuals themselves, but also can have a negative impact on society overall in terms of crime and devotion of emergency services that might be better used elsewhere.
With regard to emergency departments, where there are just 8.1 beds per 1 million people. This contributes to extremely long wait times, averaging some 315 minutes (or 5 hours and 15 minutes) from the time someone arrives until the time they leave.
And even when they do receive prompt treatment, there is no guarantee that hospitals will have the necessary medications to treat them. The report indicates that there is a “severe” medication shortage in Florida, both in pre-hospital and emergency care settings.
While the state received an overall C-, it received an F in terms of Access to Emergency Care, ranking 49th in the country. In terms of Public Health and Injury Prevention, we received a D+. And while we received a C+ in terms of Quality and Patient Safety, that reflected a significant drop from the A- grade the state received in its 2009 report card.
Researchers recommended that Florida work harder to recruit, train and retain all types of health professionals, with a special focus on emergency physicians and specialists willing to be on-call in emergency departments.
It’s also recommended that emergency departments develop a uniform system for pre-arrival instructions and that state field triage protocols align with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
West Palm Beach medical malpractice claims are handled by the Hollander Law Firm. Call 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.