A merica's emergency rooms are sick and growing sicker, and the problem may get even worse.
The American College of Emergency Physicians says the nation's emergency care system is now one step removed from life support. The survey graded emergency care a D-plus which is down from the C-minus it earned in 2009.
William Jaquis, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Sinai Hospital, says those who aren't able to take care of themselves are at the most risk. "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 and there are fewer emergency rooms. The number is shrinking by 11-percent from the mid-1990's through 2010, and 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 and burdened by too much liability. That 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's not all bad news though. In some states, such as Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Utah, emergency care has improved since 2009. Yet, 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.
See how states fared in ACEP's report card.