Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Iowa Doctors March In D.C. Over Emergency Care

From the Iowa Channel:

Iowa emergency room physicians Tuesday joined doctors and nurses from around the country to march on the nation's capitol.

The group's goal is to improve the emergency medical care that it gives to patients.

An ambulance rushed to Mercy Medical Center with a trauma patient. It's part of a busy day's work for the doctors and nurses.

"We take care of the people. That's our first priority," said Dr. Rob Hatchitt, of Mercy Medical Center.

Hatchitt has seen the challenges grow in emergency medical care. He said challenges include overcrowding and a growing number of uninsured people seeking care.

"A lot of people don't have primary doctors. They come here. When you have 30 people waiting, that can lead to problems," he said.

Hatchitt also said Iowa hospitals face among the lowest re-imbursements in Medicare cases. Doctors also said many physicians no longer practice medicine because of high malpractice insurance costs, which also adds to the burden for hospitals.

Those issues brought thousands of doctors and nurses to march on Washington, D.C, to ask Congress to ask members to pass the Public Access to Emergency Medical Care Act.

The Emergency Medical Services Act would extend liability protection to emergency room physicians.

Dr. David Stilley, of Mercy, led the state delegation.

"It was pretty exciting to see all these people in white coats -- asking for support of all Americans," Stilley said.

Among other things, the measure would provide supplemental funding for emergency departments and financial incentives for hospitals that can reduce the time patients remain in the emergency room.

"We're saying something needs to be done before things get worse," Hatchitt said.


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