For the first time, providers, payers, and patients now have an enormous searchable database containing documents detailing about 8,000 serious federal safety rule violations—many of which have caused serious patient harm or death—at about 1,000 U.S. hospitals since January, 2011.
The documents, which resulted from federally authorized complaint investigations and are called "2567s," were released over the weekend by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after a long-standing request from and collaboration with the Association of Health Care Journalists. The AHCJ has organized the document files on a searchable website on its site, hospitalinspections.org.
AHCJ president Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica in New York, made the announcement about the database during a news conference Saturday at the organization's annual meeting in Boston. He said the documents "show deception, fraud, falsification, and medical errors that are inexcusable."
Also, he said, now members of the public can find out not only which hospitals in their cities or regions had incidents serious enough to prompt such investigations, but how often errors of a particular type occurred in any facility to receive such a federal investigation report in the last 26 months.
For example, hospital deficiencies may now be searched by keyword or phrase, such as "wrong site," "wrong patient," "infection," "sponge," "transfusion," or "falsified," to catalogue types and frequency of hospital errors, and often whether a patient death was involved. Some of the violations involved a declaration of immediate jeopardy, which are so serious and immediately threatening to patients or workers that the situation must be resolved within 24 hours.