Spanish hospitals during the pandemic

Country/area: Spain

Organisation: Maldita.es

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2/10/2021

Credit: José Molina, Sergio Sangiao and Nacho Calle.

Biography: The project has been created by Maldito Dato, the section specialised in data journalism, investigation and FOIA of Maldita.es, a media outlet focused on fact-checking.

The authors are José Molina, Maldito Dato journalist, Sergio Sangiao, Maldito Dato coordinator, and Nacho Calle, Maldita.es deputy director.

Project description:

Maldita.es revealed in this investigation, after a multitude of requests and claims via FOIA, a multitude of stories about hospitals in the pandemic in Spain that were not known. Its true occupation, capacity, expansion, etc. Data that was not known until the publication of the investigation and that has not been known since. Thanks to this, it was possible to know which hospitals were more saturated or which governments promised to expand hospitals that were not really expanded later, for example.

Impact reached:

The impact of the research in Spain was great. It is an investigation that continues to be read because it is the only time during the pandemic that occupancy, capacity and other data have been published in Spain hospital by hospital.

Many other media echoed the investigation. And many researchers and academics are using the data that Maldita.es released for new research on the pandemic.

Techniques/technologies used:

FOIA, Mapping, Open Data, Excel, Python, R, Analysis, Data Visualization…

What was the hardest part of this project?

The analysis and extraction of stories from a database with a huge amount of information. It is a database with information on more than 500 hospitals throughout Spain. The records for each center were daily and included information such as hospital capacity and occupancy, ICU capacity and occupancy, etc. It took a good job of analyzing the database to see and tell interesting stories.

What can others learn from this project?

The importance of fighting for data that is not public and that citizens have the right to know.

Despite the fact that data is published during the pandemic, governments have much more information that they do not make public and that journalists have to fight to obtain in order to be able to analyze and tell what is informatively relevant. A database like this, with which the Spanish government worked daily during the pandemic, was unknown and hid thousands of relevant stories.

Project links: