These data resources can help localize studies on medical facility quality control

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Scott & White Healthcare via Flickr

If you cover medical studies for national publications, you rarely have to worry about localizing it to one particular region. But local and state journalists typically have to go deeper when covering a national study for region-specific publications. A new obesity prevalence study is out? How does that compare to obesity rates in your state? In your county? In your city? In your schools?

Say, a new study finds a correlation between burnout and medical mistakes during surgeries. How many physicians are dealing with burnout and similar mental health challenges in your area? What are the statistics on mistakes among your local hospitals? What resources exist for doctors who need help, or for patients (or their families) who have been harmed?

A health care reporter may already know where to find some of this information, but there are national data sources that can aid your search. A new addition to the data section of AHCJ’s Medical Studies core topic section includes links to CMS databases where you can look at specific quality control ratings and deficiencies in all types of health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, CLIA laboratories, federally qualified health centers, hospices, rehab centers, rural clinics, facilities for those with intellectual disabilities, dialysis centers and more. In addition to the data available above, you can get performance data specific to nursing homes on the CMS Nursing Home Compare and Hospital Compare sites.

These databases, many of which can be downloaded, may also be helpful in fishing expeditions for investigative stories. Depending on what you download and look for, the potential for story generation can be endless.

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