This game of Who’s on First suggests that reporters and the public need to take these regulatory oversight matters into their own hands. That’s not so simple. The Association of Health Care Journalists (full disclosure: I am immediate past president of the group) has pushed the Joint Commission to make it easier to learn whether a hospital has lost accreditation or is in danger of losing it. Check out the Joint Commission’s Quality Check section on its website. Government inspection reports are a tougher proposition. These reports are not publicly available for hospitals. Nursing homes are required to post them; hospitals aren’t. A few states put them on line, but if journos or patients want to see the reports, they must file a FOIA request. Jackson’s story shows why that’s not an acceptable solution for patient safety.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.