A Republican state senator is expressing concern about data the Iowa Department of Public Health collects from his family’s business, but he is stopping short of proposing legislation that would require any changes in the procedure. Senator Jack Chapman runs a Des Moines-based ambulance service and the data deals with the calls his company makes.
“From 2004 to the middle of (this) February, the Iowa Department of Public Health has collected nearly 1.9 million patient care records of Iowans for ambulance transports,” Chapman said during a speech on the Senate floor. “These records include identifyable information such as the patient’s name, address, date of birth. It also includes their medical information, such as their medical condition, medications administered and the list goes on.”
Chapman is calling for a review of this data collection system, but he has withdrawn a proposal from senate consideration that would have forced the department to conduct that review.
“The most important issue is the fact that Iowans have no idea this data is being collected on them and, furthermore, it appears to be stored indefinitely,” Chapman said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health is required by state law to collect all sorts of data, including ambulance calls. According to a recent report from the agency, the data provided by ambulance services helps policymakers assess how emergency calls are handled and bring about “more efficent and effective emergency services,” especially when the patients being hauled in the ambulance have “life-threatening” conditions. According to the National 9-1-1 Center, the collection of “meaningful data” helps policymakers come up with the best way to manage emergency services for critical patients outside of a hospital.