This item appeared in the Des Moines Sunday Register’s “Roses and Thistles” column on Dec. 18, 2016.
A thistle to the Crawford County Memorial Hospital for once again concealing information from the community it claims to serve. A year ago, this allegedly “public” hospital refused to disclose the names of the people who were being used to drive patient-transport vehicles. After 13 months of stonewalling, the hospital was forced to give up the names when the Iowa Public Information Board ruled they had to be disclosed. Now the hospital refuses to reveal the size and nature of the settlement paid out to the family of a woman who died after a botched colonoscopy. Under Iowa law, such settlements are clearly a public record. But the hospital claims that because details of the settlement in civil court also found their way into the woman’s separate probate court file, which is sealed, the hospital must now keep its copy of the settlement secret. It’s a ludicrous argument since the sealed court file includes all sorts of information — names, addresses, property records, etc. — that is publicly accessible in other government files.