Analysis of billing record data reveals hospital quality issues in Las Vegas

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.

Using data from hospital billing records, Marshall Allen and Alex Richards of the Las Vegas Sun have been able to identify “hospital-acquired patient harm,” that is, events in which patients are harmed while in the hospital.

Medicare does not pay for these “never events” and so they are reflected in hospital billing codes. Such events include things like leaving foreign objects in a patient, bed sores, falls, infections related to catheters or surgical sites, blood clots and poor glycemic control.

Nevada – and 40 other states – collect such data for analysis, Allen and Richards report. In Nevada, the state had not yet analyzed the data so the reporters requested it and did the analysis.

The pair requested and received records for “every Nevada hospital inpatient visit going back a decade — 2.9 million in all. The information, coupled with interviews with more than 150 patients and health care insiders, has yielded a sweeping and detailed portrait of hospital care in Las Vegas.”

The project includes stories about patients who were harmed while hospitalized, the documents behind the reporting, data tables, interactive graphics and more.

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