Health News Review

The Association of Health Care Journalists launched a new website – hospitalinspections.org – that has something to offer not only journalists but the general public as well.

AHCJ says the site:

“…aims to make federal hospital inspection reports easier to access, search and analyze. This site includes details about deficiencies cited during complaint inspections at acute-care and critical access hospitals throughout the United States since Jan. 1, 2011. It does not include results of routine inspections or those of psychiatric hospitals or long-term care hospitals. It also does not include hospital responses to deficiencies cited during inspections. Those can be obtained by filing a request with a hospital or the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

This effort follows years of advocacy by AHCJ to encourage federal officials to publish this information electronically. Until now, this information has only been available through Freedom of Information Act requests – and only in paper form. Funding for this project was provided by the provided by the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Because CMS has just begun gathering this data and releasing it in electronic format, it remains incomplete. Some reports are missing narrative details, and those are noted on each hospital’s page. Beyond that, CMS acknowledges that other reports that should appear may not. CMS has pledged to work with AHCJ to make future iterations of this data more complete. At this time, this data should not be used to rank hospitals within a state or between states. It can be used to review issues identified at hospitals during recent inspections.

Clicking on a state on the map will retrieve a list of all hospitals with their violations grouped together; choosing a state from the drop down menu will list all inspection reports separately, so a hospital may appear more than once.”

Besides the state-specific or hospital-specific checking you can do, you can search on problems such as “wrong site surgery,” and get a result like this, to help you look further across the US:

In releasing this data, and in praising the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for making the information available, the AHCJ has again urged the Joint Commission, the largest private accreditor of hospitals, to make public information from its inspections of hospitals.  The AHCJ notified the Joint Commission that “The AHCJ board cannot accept the notion that patients are best protected by keeping hospital problems secret.”

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