A Message from our President

Where do we stand in the everchanging world of health care? The North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians is hard at work on many issues impacting emergency medicine.  I will detail some below that have been of particular interest that we will be focusing on this coming year.

Violence, nursing shortages, boarding, reimbursement issues, and workforce shortages have all been in the forefront more than ever since covid came on the scene over three years ago. I know we have many mountains to climb but there are definitely signs we are making progress and we will continue to work on these issues to provide a better work environment for our members.

Legislation to address violence, has been introduced in many states, including North Carolina, to provide more protections and additional criminal penalties to protect our emergency departments and staff.  Through the efforts of the NC College of Emergency Physicians and Rep. Tim Reeder, we have been able to pass legislation this year, House Bill 125, to require Hospitals to conduct a security assessment and/or provide law enforcement on site 24/7. The new law also requires the reporting of assaults, charges and convictions so that we can truly monitor this issue.

Nursing shortages and boarding patients in the ED continues across the State. While that may be more out of our direct control, we have advocated for additional funding for mental health services and for nursing educators to increase those in the nursing pipeline. The Budget just approved by the General Assembly provided millions to both and we are hopeful that these funds will help to improve the boarding situation.

Reimbursement issues may be one of our biggest challenges yet, with insurance company denials, lower reimbursement rates and the No Surprises Act implementation issues.  Lawsuits in Texas by the Texas Medical Association and ACEP have had success over the unfair implementation; however, we still need to see the changes that will allow that law to work as intended. It appears that some of the unfair downcoding and nonpayment by insurance carriers are coming to light and being noticed as well by regulators.

Scope of practice also remains a concern.  I think we are such a unique group of people that are physicians with special skill sets. We do deserve to stand out and have our voices heard.  We have worked very hard to develop the knowledge and skill sets to take care of patients and they should not be taken for granted or diminished in any capacity.  With that being said, we are leaders that can help make sure everyone working in the emergency department is well trained and quality of care is delivered at the highest level.

I am truly honored to represent the North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians. I hope to help the College to continue to impact these important issues and work to continue to make improvements to emergency medicine. I strive to climb higher on the mountain and find the paths to resolution on these issues. We now more that every need to work together and be active in the state and nationally to accomplish these goals.

Jill Benson, MD, FACEP