Health-Care Journalists Tackle Barriers to Hospital Safety Records


Patient Safety

The Association of Health Care Journalists, a professional association that includes 1,400 journalists, is tackling some of the barriers consumers and advocates face when trying to access such information as hospital safety records. AHCJ’s www.HospitalInfections.org is a free, searchable news application that went live in March with detailed reports of deficiencies cited in federal inspection visits for acute- and critical-access hospitals nationwide.

Through years of advocacy, AHCJ has filed Freedom of Information Act requests and negotiated with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to get access to hospital safety information in electronic form.

CMS’ Hospital Compare website (www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare) and the Joint Commission’s Quality Check (www.qualitycheck.org) program both publicly report hospital quality data, but they have significant time lags and data that are difficult for the average consumer to understand, according to AHCJ. The association touts its new site as an “early attempt by an advocacy group to make hospital safety information easier to access and more consumer-driven.”

“Being able to easily review the performance of your local hospital is vital for health-care journalists and for the public,” AHCJ president Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica in New York, said in a statement.

Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in San Francisco


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