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Changes to Hospital Inpatient Volume After Newspaper Reporting of Medical Errors

Fukuda, Haruhisa

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000349
Original Article: PDF Only

Objective The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of medical error case reporting by national newspapers on inpatient volume at acute care hospitals.

Design A case-control study was conducted using the article databases of 3 major Japanese newspapers with nationwide circulation between fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Data on inpatient volume at acute care hospitals were obtained from a Japanese government survey between fiscal years 2011 and 2014. Panel data were constructed and analyzed using a difference-in-differences design.

Setting Acute care hospitals in Japan.

Participants Hospitals named in articles that included the terms “medical error” and “hospital” were designated case hospitals, which were matched with control hospitals using corresponding locations, nurse-to-patient ratios, and bed numbers.

Exposure Medical error case reporting in newspapers.

Main outcome measures Changes to hospital inpatient volume after error reports.

Results The sample comprised 40 case hospitals and 40 control hospitals. Difference-in-differences analyses indicated that newspaper reporting of medical errors was not significantly associated (P = 0.122) with overall inpatient volume.

Conclusions Medical error case reporting by newspapers showed no influence on inpatient volume. Hospitals therefore have little incentive to respond adequately and proactively to medical errors. There may be a need for government intervention to improve the posterror response and encourage better health care safety.

From the Department of Health Care Administration and Management, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.

Correspondence: Haruhisa Fukuda, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Care Administration and Management, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi Higashi-ku Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan (e-mail:

The author discloses no conflict of interest.

This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI (grant 15 K1525). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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