Gordon Introduces Bill To Improve ER Access And Care
In an effort to ensure the nation's emergency rooms remain open and ready to provide care in times of crisis, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon has introduced legislation to address the problems that are forcing many of them to close.
"We rely on our emergency departments to be there when we need them," said Gordon, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee. "Unfortunately, too many of our nation's ERs are overcrowded, underfunded and stretched to the breaking point.
"We must take steps to ensure our emergency departments have the resources they need to stay open. This bill will take the first steps to shore up our ERs and ensure that patients have access to urgent care."
Today (Feb. 7), Gordon and U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas introduced the bipartisan Access to Emergency Medical Services Act. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan introduced identical legislation in the Senate.
The bill would provide additional funding for emergency physicians and create a commission to examine factors that impede delivery of emergency medical services. The legislation would also require hospitals to report the length of time patients are being held before being admitted to inpatient facilities, a process known as boarding.
Last year, the American College of Emergency Physicians released a report card grading each state's emergency care system. Tennessee received a C-. Not a single state received an A.
"Across our nation, emergency departments are shutting down, yet the overall number of patients seeking emergency care is increasing," said Gordon. "It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that more patients in fewer ERs leads to severe overcrowding."
Overcrowding in emergency departments already is causing ambulances to be diverted to other hospitals farther away. On average in the U.S., an ambulance is diverted once every minute.
"Diversions result in more time before a patient sees a doctor, and a few lost minutes can make a crucial difference during an emergency," said Gordon.