New National Hospital Care Survey Public Use Files Released

Posted on by Whitney Anderson

Medical doctor or physician staff in white gown uniform with stethoscope.The National Center for Health Statistics’s (NCHS’s) Division of Health Care Statistics has officially released the 2020 National Hospital Care Survey public use data files. These files include detailed data on inpatient stays and emergency department visits to hospitals across the United States. The release of these data files is one of several historic achievements for the survey.

“2020 marks the first data year that we have been able to make national estimates from this survey,” noted Geoff Jackson, National Hospital Care Survey team leader. “It also marks the first time in the survey’s history that public use files have been released.”

This release offers official statistics on U.S. hospital discharges and emergency department visits during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The release is also important for understanding hospital care related to the ongoing opioid epidemic. With the initial goal achieved of making National Hospital Care Survey public use files available, the next goal is to produce these data more quickly, to provide this information in a timelier manner to keep up with the fast-paced flow of information.

New Features

The recent release both provides more data and leverages innovations, including:

  • The first time in fourteen years that NCHS has released nationally representative statistics in public use files on inpatient stays in the United States.
  • The first time one of the National Health Care Surveys leveraged external data to create model-based statistical estimates.
  • The first time that NCHS National Health Care Surveys released files in the R format, as well as in SAS and Stata. The addition provides data in numerous formats that are ready to be used by the public.

Accessing the Public Use Files

The National Hospital Care Survey public use files are available in three formats: SAS, Stata, and R. For each statistical programming language, a file that instructs the user on how to load the file and use it to conduct their own statistical analysis has been provided. Additionally, the accompanying documentation provides all the detailed information a user would need to understand how the file was constructed. All available information on the files can be found here:

More Information  

The National Hospital Care Survey is one of the National Health Care Surveys – a family of nationally representative surveys which measure health care use across a variety of health care providers and settings. The 2020 National Hospital Care Survey is the principal source of information on hospital use in the United States. The survey collects inpatient and emergency department data from a nationally representative sample of U.S. hospitals, using administrative and electronic health records data sources. For each hospital setting, the public use files include information on patient age, sex, hospital discharge status, and up to 30 diagnoses codes for each hospital visit.

Posted on by Whitney Anderson
Page last reviewed: April 25, 2024
Page last updated: April 25, 2024