No one likes to think about hospital mistakes, but they happen.

For people who are working to be informed consumer-patients about health care, there’s value in knowing about those mistakes. So we’re happy to spotlight this database,, courtesy of the Association of Health Care Journalists, an organization of which we are proud members.

The site “aims to make federal hospital inspection reports easier to access, search and analyze. This site includes details about deficiencies cited during complaint inspections at acute-care and critical access hospitals throughout the United States since Jan. 1, 2011.”

The AHCJ has worked hard to get this data, which previously was available on paper, and via a Freedom of Information Act request, meaning it was beyond the reach of most people who don’t have expertise in FOIA requests. The source is the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS.

This is not a way to rank hospitals, but it is a way to know more. The AHCJ says: “Because CMS

has just begun gathering this data and releasing it in electronic format, it remains incomplete. Some reports are missing narrative details, and those are noted on each hospital’s page. Beyond that, CMS acknowledges that other reports that should appear may not. CMS has pledged to work with AHCJ to make future iterations of this data more complete. At this time, this data should not be used to rank hospitals within a state or between states. It can be used to review issues identified at hospitals during recent inspections.”

We often note that in the health-care ecosystem both public pricing information and public quality information are hard to find, so we do what we can to bring forth information for the average person, even if it might be regarded as flawed.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...