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Ohio Not Part of Federal Database on EMS Runs

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio is considered a leader in emergency medical services, but it's one of the few states that don't send run reports to a national database.

That means EMS agencies here can't compare themselves to others across the country to improve patient care and how emergency medical workers are trained.

A 1992 law that created the Ohio trauma registry prohibits state officials from sending the information to the federally funded National EMS Information System.

"Ohio has been a leader for years and wants to submit data, but their statute prohibits them," said Karen Jacobson, director of the national information system.

The law bars individual hospitals and ambulance agencies from being individually identified in public data.

Two decades ago, the Ohio Hospital Association fought to keep the names of individual health providers confidential in the public trauma registry.

But for the information to be useful in the national database, Jacobson and her staff need to identify ambulance agencies for accurate groupings, even though the names are kept confidential.

This way, a volunteer fire department in southern Ohio providing basic life support to patients isn't grouped with the Columbus Division of Fire, which provides advanced life support.

EMS agencies could use the database to learn, for example, how well they respond to time-sensitive conditions such as severe injuries, cardiac arrests and strokes.

"Is Ohio getting patients to the right locations compared to other states?" said Jeffrey Leaming, executive director of the Ohio EMS division. "We can look at it here, but we can't benchmark that nationally."

The state EMS Board wants to change the law and send ambulance run information to the database.

Officials have asked state Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, to support changing the law. He is considering it, and the hospital association so far doesn't plan to oppose it because it would include information only from EMS agencies.

"If it doesn't have hospital data in it, we're fully supportive of pushing it forward," said Carol Jacobson, the association's director of emergency preparedness.



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