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 unweighted inpatient and ambulatory National Hospital Care Survey datasets are now accessible through the NCHS Research Data Center (RDC).

2013-2014 NHCS Data Dictionary pdf icon[PDF – 114 KB]

2015 NHCS Data Dictionary pdf icon[PDF – 362 KB]

2016 NHCS Data Dictionary pdf icon[PDF – 1 MB]

NHCS Documentation and User’s Guide pdf icon[PDF – 391 KB]

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:



Page last reviewed: November 6, 2020