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Arizona emergency rooms receive bad ranking

PHOENIX -- Arizona's emergency rooms did not test well on a report card from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

The state received an overall rank of D+ on the standard A through F grading system.

"Where we've fallen down and still struggle are two areas in particular: One is public health and injury prevention and the worst is access to emergency care," said Dr. Nicholas Vazquez, an emergency room physician at Banner Gateway Hospital.

Arizona received a D+ in public health and injury prevention and an F to access to emergency care.

But those weren't the state's only problems.

"We're bottom 10 in access to registered nurses and specialists such as ear, nose and throat specialists," said Vazquez. "We have a huge unmet need for substance abuse counseling and treatment as well as very small number of psychiatric care beds relative to the demand."

Vazquez said the problem is solvable, but would take a few different measures to correct.

"We need a lot more primary care providers," he said, adding that there is also a shortage of registered nurses.

The personnel issues could be solved at the state level, however.

"We'd like to see public policy approach," Vazquez said. "We'd like to see the Arizona people get behind solving this problem and ask our Legislature to improve funding for graduate medical education so we can get more people trained as nurses and specialists."

Arizona also saw a decline in its disaster preparedness grade. In 2009, the state was given an A- grade. This year, it received a C.

The only bright spot on the report card was a B received for quality and patient safety environment.

To read the full report card, click here.

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