Tag Archives: inspections

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.

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What journalists should know about hospital ratings

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.

PhotoJoel Dinda via Flickr

Photo: Joel Dinda via Flickr

Journalists should take hospital ratings with a healthy dose of skepticism, according to experts at a recent AHCJ New York chapter event. Simply looking at an institution’s overall rating is just the start. Reporting that without understanding what’s being rated and how “success” is measured does a disservice to your audience.

Ratings are far from perfect and are ever evolving. That leaves journalists in kind of a quandary, noted chapter president Trudy Lieberman. “What do we do about the ratings, how do we judge them, how do we use them in our stories and which ones should we use?” Continue reading

Reporter finds mental health evaluations missed in ER that released murder suspect

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.

magnifying-glassReporter Amy Neff Roth (@OD_Roth), of the Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch found an interesting story with the help of hospitalinspections.org.

Roth, who attended Health Journalism 2015 as an AHCJ-New York Health Journalism Fellow, investigated the circumstances around a triple homicide and found that not all emergency room patients in need of mental health evaluations were getting them.

Police brought [Paul] Bumbolo into the ER for an evaluation on Jan. 6 after he reportedly attacked his uncle and beat the family dog. Police said he killed his adoptive mother, uncle and sister several hours after being released.

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Searchable hospital data now includes June inspections

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

AHCJ just added 3,522 detailed records of hospital deficiencies on its HospitalInspections.org website. The latest addition includes inspections into June.

The searchable site includes 12,674 different deficiencies among 2,055 hospitals in the United States. The data comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition, the site includes records showing that 492 hospital inspection reports have yet to be added to the CMS computer system.

The website includes the results of government inspections of acute-care hospitals, critical-access (rural) hospitals and psychiatric hospitals resulting from complaints. It does not include reports of deficiencies found at long-term care hospitals, nor does it include the results of  routine hospital inspections.

The site offers inspections since Jan. 1, 2011, searchable by keyword, city, state and hospital name. The website is open to anyone. AHCJ members can also download the latest data to perform their own searches and analysis.

HospitalInspections.org was launched in March 2013 following years of advocacy by AHCJ urging the government to release the deficiency reports in an electronic format. Until then, reporters and the public had to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with CMS to obtain the documents, a process fraught with delays. A December 2013 update added data on psychiatric hospitals.

The site is public but AHCJ members get the added bonus of being able to download the entire dataset and also get access to resources and tip sheets about how to best use the data in their reporting.

Updated hospital inspection data includes psychiatric facilities

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

hospital-inspection-orgAHCJ has updated its HospitalInspections.org website and the downloadable version of the data to include reports from most of 2013. The database – obtained from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services – now includes psychiatric hospital complaint-based inspection reports. Previous versions included only acute-care and critical access hospitals.

The database includes reports about deficiencies cited during complaint inspections throughout the United States since Jan. 1, 2011. The new records include June through September, with a handful of October reports. It does not include results of routine inspections or those of long-term care hospitals. It also does not include hospital responses to deficiencies cited during inspections. The website explains how to obtain that information.

The update added 2,976 records with inspection details, giving the database a total of 9,152 records. Some state health departments and CMS regional offices have lagged in uploading deficiency reports to the agency’s main database. CMS has identified the hospitals with missing reports, and they are labeled as such on hospitalinspections.org. CMS has committed to working with its regional offices and state counterparts to speed the uploading of inspection reports so that the public has access to this important information. The updated database includes 429 inspections lacking details.

AHCJ launched the free, searchable news application in March. The inspection reports have been configured by AHCJ to be easily searchable by keyword, city, state and hospital name. The website is open to anyone, but only AHCJ members have access to a downloadable version and additional resources to help users understand what is being reported and what is not. These caveats are important for putting the information into context.

Funding for the hospitalinspections.org project was provided by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.