Category Archives: Hospitals

Looking below the surface of those ‘outrageous hospital bill’ stories

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: RikkisRefuge Other via Flickr

Photo: RikkisRefuge Other via Flickr

We may need a new hashtag to supplement #surprisemedbills. Perhaps #shockingmedbills would fit because some bills are just that.

Recent coverage about a new mom in Utah who was charged $39.35 just to hold her newborn is a good example. Continue reading

Reporter explores the secondary health problems of elderly during hospitalization

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Heidi de Marco/KHNRon Schwarz, 79, who was hospitalized after falling in the shower, was featured in Anna Gorman’s series for Kaiser Health News on the risks that elderly patients can face when hospitalized.

Photo: Heidi de Marco/KHNRon Schwarz, 79, who was hospitalized after falling in the shower, was featured in Anna Gorman’s series for Kaiser Health News on the risks that elderly patients can face when hospitalized.

People go to the hospital to get better, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with elderly adults, who can be at greater risk of getting discharged in worse condition than when admitted. This risk not only contributes to higher overall financial and physical health costs – longer hospital stays, time in rehab, worsening memory or fragility – but also threatens a senior’s ability to continue to live at home independently.

Kaiser Health News senior correspondent Anna Gorman looked into this problem – and what’s being done to address it – in her series, Diagnosis: Unprepared. Continue reading

Pharmacy access story gains stronger local angle from inventive use of study’s own data

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Ben Husmann via Flickr

Photo: Ben Husmann via Flickr

Local pharmacies have limited hours? Turns out that this is way more than an inconvenience. It may also be a factor in hospital readmissions. Patients who can’t easily get their medications from an accessible, nearby – and open! – pharmacy are more likely to end up back in the hospital.

Experts have been exploring possible reasons why so many patients bounce in and out of the hospital, and why it’s been hard to bring down the 30-day readmission rates, even with new financial incentives under the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

Journalist finds state budget cuts adversely affected patient care

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Anyone who has started a new reporting job knows the feeling: You want to find some story somewhere on your beat that you can crank out to show you know how to deliver good copy on time.

It’s unlikely that you’re thinking you’ll uncover a big story that turns into a five-part series. But that’s what happened to Megan Hart, a reporter covering health care for KHI News Service in Topeka, Kan. Continue reading

New tip sheet outlines criteria for reporting on hospital rankings

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

star-ratingReporting on hospital ratings — the “best of,” “top ten” and other rankings designed to help consumers with decision making are not necessarily all they’re cracked up to be. So much more goes in to these rankings than just the letter or number grade. Savvy reporters should pause and consider many angles before jumping in to proclaim that their local hospital is “best,” “worst” or somewhere in between.

Ratings certainly help with improving transparency and the patient’s right to know. However, it’s important that journalist know how to read between the lines and question the methodology and potential biases.

Liz Seegert has put together a new tip sheet on the topic based on ideas presented at an event last month sponsored by AHCJ’s New York chapter. A panel moderated by ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein featured Robert Panzer, M.D., chief quality officer at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a steering committee member for the Healthcare Association of New York State; Leah Binder, chief executive of the Leapfrog Group; and Marshall Allen, a reporter for ProPublica.