WASHINGTON — The nation’s emergency care system itself is ailing, warns a new health care analysis. “The emergency health care system’s in serious condition. We have a safety net for health care that is frayed,” said Dr. Stephen Epstein, an emergency care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Epstein was a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians task force that studied the nation’s emergency care. Their report was released Tuesday. The panel found a system that is overcrowded, with access to emergency care declining and with poor capacity to deal with public health or terrorist disasters. “Americans assume they will receive lifesaving emergency care when and where they need it, but increasingly that isn’t the case,” said Dr. Frederick C. Blum, president of the physicians group. Overall, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and the District of Columbia were rated best in emergency care, while the lowest grades went to Utah, Idaho and Arkansas. The number of emergency departments has declined by 14 percent since 1993 despite an increasing number of people coming to them for treatment, the report said. Hurricane Katrina showed the critical need for surge capacity in emergency […]

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