Deep in the heart of Texas, you can find both bustling cities and rural areas so quiet and sparsely populated that you can travel for miles and miles without encountering gas stations, grocery stores, and hospitals. The unique living conditions inspired by rural areas attract many Americans for various reasons. Unfortunately, those who choose to live in the geographically isolated areas of Texas and other states are at risk for higher mortality rates while admitted at their local medical facilities.
According to a study recently published in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association, mortality rates increased sharply for rural hospitals and declined sharply for urban facilities over the past decade. It is not yet clear exactly what proportion of the increase in mortality rates can be traced to medical malpractice and general negligence as opposed to scarcity of resources and other discrepancies.
In the report, Texas was named as one of the top five states affected by lack of adequate critical care access in rural areas. This means that Texans suffer a proportionately higher mortality rate in rural areas than those living in most other states containing a number of rural communities.
One of the key differences between rural critical access facilities and similar facilities situated in urban environments is the standards that they are held to. For example, urban facilities are required to report how their patients respond to treatment and are required to adhere to certain efficiency and safety requirements that rural hospitals are not responsible for.
Patients in rural environments deserve the same standard of care that urban patients do. Hopefully, this study will inspire changes within the healthcare system that will ultimately afford rural patients the same chance at survival that urban patients enjoy.