Study: U.S. emergency care system now one step removed from life support

National Correspondent Kristine Frazao:

America's emergency rooms are in desperate need of a health care fix. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is out with a new study and its findings are grim.

It finds the nation's emergency care system is now one step removed from life support. The ACEP graded emergency care a D+, down from the C- it earned in 2009.

William Jaquis is Chief of Emergency Medicine at Sinai Hospital. "What we worry more about are those really sick people and the growing number based on an aging population, based on living longer with more health care needs and not really having the ability to take care of them."

According to the study, the number of doctors practicing emergency medicine has fallen to about four percent. There are fewer emergency rooms, shrinking by 11-percent from the mid-1990's through 2010. It's at a time when more people use them.

There are also growing concerns over the true quality of care with doctors practicing far too much defensive medicine burdened by too much liability. Which means, treatment for more serious health problems is more likely to go wrong.

The fix, according to ACEP, is unlikely to be found in Obamacare. In fact, researchers believe the Affordable Care Act will do more damage to emergency care.

It is not all bad news though- in some states such as Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Utah, emergency care has improved since 2009. But in places like Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois, the level of care has slipped.

What will it take to pull emergency care back from the brink? ACEP says major reforms to liability laws, more specialized emergency services and cash from states and the federal government.

To see how your state fared in the rankings go here and follow the link to the American College of Emergency Physicians for its report card.