Time to add another link to your “federal data clearinghouses” folder, if you haven’t already. Childstats.gov, published by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, synthesizes data from the CDC, NCHS, National Children’s Survey, AHRQ, Census and other specialized programs.
“This is a very important finding,” says Donald Berwick, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, adding that though patient-survey data offer critical insights into how it feels to be a patient at different hospitals, patients’ perceptions don’t tell the whole story.
The story is packaged with an infographic that allows readers to look up ratings for local hospitals.
Updated hospital data allows reporters to identify ongoing problems: The release this month of federal data on hospital quality is a good reminder for reporters to give their local hospitals a checkup. To give you a head start, Charles Ornstein, senior reporter at ProPublica and AHCJ’s president, has done some preliminary analysis and points out states in which hospitals fared well and the states where hospitals did poorly.
Last month, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (about) launched the Global Health Data Exchange (or GHDx), a sort of clearinghouse for global public health data sets. At launch, the site boasted about 1,000 data sets and promised it will index and host “information about microdata, aggregated data, and research results with a focus on health-related and demographic datasets.”
At present, the data is global in nature, though there are still plenty of domestic and comparative sets that will be of use to just about any U.S. reporter. Many of them will be familiar to data-heads, but it’s still handy to have it all in one place. The site will point directly to data providers when possible, and will work to provide public data for direct download. Free site registration is required before downloading.
In two years, the Guardian’s data blog has published more than 600 data sets. I know this because, thanks to their nifty summary post, I just browsed the full list. In addition to more than a few UK analogues to the sort of stuff we see from AHRQ and NCHS, such as UK life expectancy, birth rates and aging populations and public spending, they’ve also got the sort of global health stuff that any journalist or blogger could pull out and use in a post tomorrow. I’ve collected some of my favorites and tried to strike a good balance between unique stuff and broad-spectrum, widely available global health data.
They assembled a number of anecdotes for the story, but the most telling related to a physician who was disciplined for faulty research related to a Pfizer drug, yet still paid by the company to lecture on it.
Other Pfizer experts ran into trouble during their research. Among them is Thomas Gazda of Scottsdale, Arizona, who was paid to lecture about Geodon after being reprimanded by the FDA over irregularities in his conduct of a trial of the same drug’s use in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder – one of whom was given more than the maximum allowable dose for five days. The FDA had earlier told Pfizer to exclude Gazda’s data from the results submitted by Pfizer during its efforts to win approval to use the drug for this purpose.
AHCJ has extensive resources for folks looking to do both sides of the mashup, with tips for investigating conflicts of interest from John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and recommendations for looking into disciplined caregivers from ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber.