Iowa’s emergency medical care got an average grade of a "C" on the first-ever National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine. The American College of Emergency Physicians ranked the states based on several key criteria. Dr. Sandra Schneider is the group’s vice president and an E-R doctor in Rochester, New York. She says Iowa ranked 19th among the 50 states.
Dr. Schneider says Iowa did very well in several areas, like traffic deaths and alcohol-related traffic deaths are very low compared to the rest of the country, while Iowa got a "D" in quality and patient safety. She says Iowa is far behind the times in one important area of patient safety, which dragged that entire category down.
Iowa has a very low number of physicians who are using electronic networking and electronic medical records. "We don’t have access to your doctor’s records unless they’re electronic," Schneider says. "We might not know what medicines you’re on or exactly what you’re being treated for unless we have access to those electronic medical records." She says Iowa ranked poorly in another category, where doctors are encouraged to type any orders for medicine into a digital database, not to scribble them on a pad.
"That’s a very safe thing to do now, have the physician order medication on-line through the computer rather than writing with our notoriously-bad hand writing," Schneider says. "It’s actually printed out so people can read it." She says Iowa also got a "D" in the malpractice category, as Iowa lacks a medical liability cap for non-economic damages, and lacks some expert witness rules. Overall, 90-percent of the states in the report card earned mediocre or near-failing grades. To see the full report on Iowa or any other state, visit the American College of Emergency Physicians website .