Tag Archives: inspections

What journalists should know about hospital ratings

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

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.

Continue reading

Searchable hospital data now includes June inspections

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

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.

Tulsa reporter shares lessons from ongoing coverage of dentist

Shannon Muchmore

Shannon Muchmore

As many of you know, it can be hard following an ongoing story – keeping up with the latest developments, looking ahead and staying ahead of the competition, finding the larger stories and putting it all into context.

Shannon Muchmore of The Tulsa World has been doing just that since the end of March, reporting on an investigation into a dentist whose clinics have been cited for multiple violations, many related to unsanitary practices. Hundreds of patients are being tested for HIV and hepatitis and officials say as many as 7,000 patients may have been exposed since 2007.

Amid a steady stream of stories, she took the time to share some of her insights into the complexities of the unfolding drama, including how her daily work life has changed, the level of risk faced by patients and some tips for other reporters.