Wed January 22, 2014
Kentucky's Emergency Care Receives 'D' Grade
Emergency care physicians are working with Kentucky legislators on a bill to provide standard experts to testify in malpractice suits, according to Ryan Stanton, president of Kentucky's chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The national ACEP released its state-by-state rankings of emergency care and the commonwealth received a D grade, earning its lowest marks for medical liability and patient safety categories.
The last time the ACEP released its report card was 2009. Since then Kentucky dropped to 47th on the list.
“We already have some high risk conditions. We’re still number one in the country when it comes to smokers. We’re one of the highest when it comes to obesity,” says Stanton.
“If you look at our map in terms of the states, again an F in medical legal, we're really an island by ourselves here in the east in terms of a lot of states that have already taken steps: Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee.”
Stanton says neighboring states, like Indiana and Tennessee, are doing a better job than Kentucky protecting doctors who work in emergency care. Now, he says his ACEP is working with legislators on a bill that’s expected to be introduced this year that would create a reliable panel of doctors who could testify in medical malpractice suits.Currently, he says it’s difficult for juries who listen to testimony from independent experts, but without medical consensus based off best-practices.
“With a jury they see MD or physician or whoever and they take that word as honest and we have to make sure they’re getting the best information," says Stanton.
A majority of lawsuits brought against physicians or medical doctors never make it to court, he adds. But to attract good doctors to Kentucky, there needs to be good policies and laws in place, he says.
In 2012, there were 415 closed claims against doctors, physician's assistants and facilities, that totaled in the amount of $96 million in settlements, according to the Kentucky Department of Insurance. In 2011, there were 984 closed claims that totaled $88 million.
Kentucky also received an F grade for quality and patient safety. Stanton says the state needs to work on getting people to stroke and heart centers in time. He adds there have been changes to emergency care that should improve the state’s future scores in this category.