South Carolina falling behind in emergency care, report card shows

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - South Carolina ranks among theworst in the country in terms of access to care, public health and disasterpreparedness, according to a recent study by the American College of EmergencyPhysicians.

According to the report, South Carolina's grade has worsenedin its overall emergency care environment due to the state's failing grades inaccess to emergency care, public health and injury prevention, and disasterpreparedness.

ACEP ranked South Carolina last in the nation in publichealth and injury prevention, citing poor public health services and thefailure of the state legislature to pass new laws that would improve publichealth.

"For instance, while the state has some of the highest ratesof traffic fatalities, bicyclist fatalities, and pedestrian fatalities, it hasnot passed legislation banning texting or handheld cellphone use for alldrivers," the report reads. "The state is also one of only seven to have failedto pass any antismoking legislation to discourage smoking and reducesecond-hand smoke exposure in restaurants, bars, and worksites."

The report also cites the high rates of childhood and adultobesity, 30.8 and 21.5 percent respectively.

The state also failed in its lack of access to emergencycare due to growing financial obstacles to get care for many of the state'sresidents, the report card reads. The rate of uninsured children has risensince the last report card; nearly 20 percent of children with insurance areconsidered underinsured by the report.

The report card also says that only 2.1 doctors acceptMedicare per 100 beneficiaries, the fifth lowest rate in the country.

Perhaps the most damning criticism of the state's emergencycare is ACEP's review of the state's disaster preparedness. The report says thePalmetto State lacks key policies and gets by with limited resources andhospital capacity for a disaster or mass casualty event.

"The state has one of the lowest bed surge capacities andper capita rates of burn unit beds in the nation," the criticism reads. "SouthCarolina does not require training in disaster management and response forhospital and EMS personnel, and only 31.9 percent of registered nurses reportedreceiving training related to disaster response."

ACEP says the state also lacks legislation that wouldprotect health care workers and their sponsors in a disaster.

However, South Carolina is among the best in medicalliability protections and has seen a "dramatic" drop in the average malpracticeaward since 2009. It is currently the tenth lowest in the nation, ACEP reports.

South Carolina's grade in quality and patient safety alsoimproved since the 2009 report card, due in part to EMS personnel being able tobypass hospitals to take emergency patients to specialty centers.

Also, the study found that 97 percent of people suffering acardiac emergency are being treated within 90 minutes. The state also appearsto be developing a diversity plan for care, ACEP found.

ACEP said the state needs to work to ensure that theresidents of the state have access to the doctors, specialty care, and servicesthey need while also addressing the problems of fatalities on the roadways.

Read the full report on all 50 state here: