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In the last year many prominent voices have raised alarms about deficiencies in patient safety, just as staffing shortages have heightened concerns about harm due to inadequate care.
Here are five key points that have emerged.
1. Measures of patient safety worsened during the pandemic.
Rates of some hospital-associated infections tracked by the CDC increased in 2020 and 2021 following several years of improvement. Data show that falls and bed sores also increased.
Editor’s note: This is the second of two posts on covering private equity.
Lack of transparency is a giant hurdle in reporting on the growing influence of private equity in health care.
Reporters covering public corporations can easily obtain periodic financial reports and ownership disclosures that are filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Information about the finances and public benefits of nonprofit hospitals is readily available via the IRS’s Form 900.
Photo via Canva
Critical coverage of private equity firms — which buy companies and restructure their operations in order to quickly sell them for a profit— has been picking up.
In the last six months:
Mary Chris Jaklevic
Mary Chris Jaklevic, a Chicago-based independent health care journalist with nearly 30 years of experience, has joined AHCJ as its new patient safety core topic leader.
The former AHCJ board member will build upon the solid patient safety content produced by Kerry Dooley Young, who served in the role from May 2021-October 2022.
Jaklevic, who grew up near Detroit and moved to Chicago in 1994, has covered health care finance, clinical care and medical research for both expert and consumer audiences. She says her awareness of patient safety issues expanded when she worked at Healthnewsreview.org, where she and her team discovered that only 37% of news stories adequately addressed the harms of medical interventions such as drugs and devices. That’s when she decided to focus more of her reporting on this important topic.
The COVID pandemic drew public attention to an issue already well known in health care circles: the challenges hospitals face in retaining their nursing staff, which can affect medical care. Research shows lower nurse-patient ratios mean better patient outcomes, journalist Sarah DiGregorio explained in a Sept. 28 AHCJ webinar. DiGregorio reviewed some of the key research she found in reporting for her forthcoming book, “Taking Care: The Revolutionary Story of Nursing,” due out in May.
To help reporters dig into this issue, this blog post contains a brief background section and then provides links and summaries of a few studies and then a resources section.