National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS)

The National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS) is designed to provide accurate and reliable health care statistics that answer key questions of interest to health care and public health professionals, researchers, and health care policy makers.

The survey describes national patterns of health care delivery in hospital-based settings, including inpatient departments, emergency departments (EDs), and outpatient departments (OPDs). Data elements collected include demographics, diagnoses, procedures, laboratory tests, and medications. Additionally, NHCS collects patient-level identifiers that allow a patient’s episodes of care to be linked between hospital inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as to outside databases such as the National Death Index, providing a more complete picture of patient care.

The 2013-2016 and 2019-2021 unweighted inpatient and ambulatory NHCS datasets are now accessible through the NCHS Research Data Center (RDC). Additionally, preliminary 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 NHCS data used in the dashboard reporting on COVID-19 data and drug use-associated hospital encounters from selected hospitals are available in the NCHS RDC.

NCHS has been able to expand the analytic utility of the data collected from the National Hospital Care Survey (NHCS) by linking it with vital and administrative records.  The following linked files are available through the RDC: