Category Archives: Hospitals

AHCJ continues to advocate for release of hospital inspection reports

Irene M. Wielawski

About Irene M. Wielawski

Irene M. Wielawski (@wielawski), an independent journalist based in New York, is a founder and former board member of AHCJ and serves on the organization’s Right to Know Committee.

See the full comment at Regulations.gov.

AHCJ has submitted a statement to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services supporting the agency’s proposal to open hospital inspection reports to the public.

The proposed rule change applies to inspections by private accrediting organizations, which are often kept secret, even though they detail patient safety shortcomings of potential interest to the public.

Continue reading

Resources for tracking rural hospital closures

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. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: throgers via Flickr

The phenomenon of rural hospital closures has gotten a fair amount of attention in the last few years with all the Affordable Care Act finger-pointing. But as the University of North Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Center notes, the problem really emerged and caught the attention of policymakers in the late 1980s.

For a few years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an annual report, but closures slowed down about 20 years ago, and interest waned. The pace of closures picked up again during the Great Recession of 2008-09, before the ACA’s passage. Continue reading

New study tracks hospital opioid prescribing for older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: frankieleon via Flickr

Too many physicians are prescribing opioid medications for hospitalized older adults who may not need them. A new study found that one-third of 10,000 older patients were prescribed opioid pain medications, including Percocet and OxyContin, while hospitalized for non-surgical conditions.

These patients had a longer length of stay (six days vs. four) and were more often readmitted within 30 days. They were also more likely to be restrained or have bladder catheters while hospitalized, according to the retrospective analysis. Continue reading

What to watch on the health IT front as Congress considers Trump’s proposed budget

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

President Trump’s proposed budget calls for steep cuts to health and human services programs. The biggest headlines highlight potential dramatic slashes to Medicaid, food stamps and the children’s health insurance program.

With so many higher profile programs at risk, reductions in spending for health IT initiatives can seem like small potatoes. But these cuts, if approved by Congress, would have consequences in communities large and small. A few examples: Continue reading

Tips for covering cyberattacks on health care organizations

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

The cyberattack that hit British hospitals and hundreds of other organizations in more than 100 countries last week continues to unfold and has been called unprecedented in its scope.

For health care journalists, there are important questions to ask hospitals, other health care organizations – and even their own media organizations – about their level of preparedness and response plans for such an attack. Continue reading