I am the vice chairman for education in emergency medicine at the University of Iowa. Our job is to train physicians to work in Iowa’s emergency departments. As evidenced by the state-by-state report card on emergency care released by the American College of Emergency Physicians, we have a long way to go. Iowa earned a C overall and moved from 19th place in 2009 to 11th place this year. This sounds promising, but the report also showed that Iowa has the lowest number of emergency physicians per capita in the country.
One of the reasons is that Iowa has few legal protections in place for physicians who provide emergency care to high-risk patients. Iowa’s medical liability environment could be improved by the institution of pretrial screening panels to discourage frivolous lawsuits and a cap on non-economic damages.
However, Iowa earned a B in public health and injury prevention and has improved its grade in disaster preparedness. I would like to see Iowa demonstrate the same dedication to high-quality emergency care as it spends on injury preventions. Because sometimes accidents do happen.
Dr. Hans House
University of Iowa