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Resources: Contest Entries

Search past entries and winners.

Title Affiliation Reporters Year Category
Misunderstood and often misdiagnosed, the mystery of vertigo Freelance Meredith Alexandra Levine, Writer/producer/director 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

An estimated fifteen million Americans live with chronic vertigo (the illusion of motion) caused by inner ear damage. In fact, this condition usually includes a range of symptoms beyond vertigo: poor balance, blurred vision, tinnitus, hearing loss, sensitivity to noise and light, dizziness (spinning inside the head), head-aches, nausea and vomiting, and a marked decline in cognitive function. People with chronic vertigo often can’t work, drive a car or use a computer. Depression and anxiety rates are disproportionately high among this population. Misunderstood and often misdiagnosed, the mystery of vertigo is a bi-medial, online project-three text pieces and five videos- that explores the causes, psycho-social impact, and treatments for this under-reported condition. There are several significant finding from the project, including the size of the population affected by chronic vertigo, and the difficulty patients have getting diagnosed and treated. However, the most startling finding is about the popular antibiotic, gentamicin. It can permanently destroy the inner ear system yet there remains an alarming degree of ignorance among physicians and pharmacologists about this risk, resulting in many lives needlessly ruined. The use of both text and video was essential for this project. Text is an ideal medium for translating complex health information. But the video enhanced the audiences’ understanding of chronic vertigo beyond what words could communicate. For example, in the first video, Chronic Vertigo: Janice Mackay, simple camera and editing effects were employed to recreate for the audience what it’s like to experience vertigo. The videos also offered a more intimate and immediate sense of what it’s like to live with chronic vertigo. Below is a brief description of each of the elements in the project: The lead text piece (same title as the project) provides an overview of the central issues with chronic vertigo. The second text piece, How gentamicin destroys the inner ear, explores the drug and its connection to complete destruction of the inner ear. The third text, Perpetual Motion: how to deal with chronic vertigo, looks at the effectiveness of vestibular (inner ear) rehabilitation treatments. The five videos are as follows*: 1. Chronic Vertigo: Janice Mackay, a feature story of a woman who had her balance system destroyed by gentamicin. 2. Living with Chronic Vertigo: Lisa Tanner, tells the story of a former college track and field star from Atlanta Georgia who, for the last decade, has been living with chronic vertigo and motion sickness. This simple video uses a single on camera interview, still photos and music to communicate the emotional impact of living with a chronic vestibular disorder. 3. Vertigo and Concussions: Todd Reed and Rotational Chair Treatment. This short video highlights Todd Reed from Zillah, Washington who travelled to Atlanta Georgia to try a high-tech rotational chair for vestibular rehabilitation. 4. Gary Nystrom. A retired-fire fighter tries traditional vestibular rehabilitation. It can be a highly effective but for those, like Gary, with damage to both sides of the inner ear, the success rate is only twenty percent. 5. Ann Stevens. A brief look at a woman whose stumbling walk leads people to assume she’s drunk. Her poor balance is, in fact, due to a progressive vestibular disorder she’s had since birth. *The videos were submitted on DVD. Please play them using VLC media player.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Hiding in Plain Sight: A high cholesterol gene Stanford School of Medicine Ruthann Richter, Director of Media Relations 2014 Public Health (small)

This story shines a light on a little known but relatively common genetic disease known as familial hypercholesterolemia. People who carry the FH gene are prone to unusually high levels of LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol” and are at risk of heart attack in their 30s and 40s. The story is told from the perspective of a 46-year-old single father with FH who has suffered major cardiovascular problems. His anxiety is palpable, as he worries about the next event, which could be fatal. All three of his children also are carriers of the gene and have very high cholesterol levels, so he devotes much of his energy to keeping them healthy. He also is involved in advocacy for the disease and in raising awareness about the public health risk, encouraging more widespread testing in the United States.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Depression and the Brain Everyday Health Nils Hartley Kongshaug, Writer/Reporter (with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Correspondent; Michael Bush, Videographer/Video Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"This is a series of six linked videos, interviews and articles featuring CNN Medical Editor Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is also a practicing brain surgeon. It explores how new brain science is illuminating our understanding of how the mind works -- and why sometimes it doesn't work. Tools like the functional MRI machine are revealing circuits and structures in the brain that are important in depression and bipolar illness. It is research that may soon lead to far more effective treatments for these terrible diseases. 1. "Targeting Depression Deep Inside the Brain" An interview with Dr. Helen Mayberg who is using deep brain stimulation to treat severely depressed patients and is achieving remarkable results. This work has the potential to become a real breakthrough in treating the most intractable depression. 2. "Using Your Hands to Heal Your Head." Two physicians, a hand surgeon and a psychiatrist, explain why working with your hands may relieve depression and anxiety. 3. "Writing a Roller Coaster - An Author's Bipolar Illness is Revealed in Her Novel." Juliann Garey wrote a novel while cycling through severe manic-depressive episodes. She discusses with Dr. Gupta the relationship between creativity and bipolar illness. 4. "Brain Images Reveal Clues About Depression" The functional MRI machine allows a researcher to test the relationship between a brain circuit and severe depression. 5. "The Reluctant Yogi" A grieving daughter uses yoga to wean herself from anti-depressants after the death of her father. 6. "How Can Happiness Be the Symptom of a Disease?" Hypomania, one phase of bipolar illness, is characterized by "euphoria, increased energy and a decreased need for sleep." How can that be bad? Bipolar researcher Katherine Burdick explains, using Claire Danes' portrayal of Carrie in Homeland as a well-known example."

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

31 Days of PrEP The Advocate STAFF, 31 Days of PrEP 2014 Public Health (small)

"Earlier this year, it was reported that the rate of HIV diagnoses had spiked among young gay, bi, and queer men under the age of 24. In learning that, we had also learned that the use of Truvada as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prohpalaxis) had been made widely available to the public, but an alarmingly small number of men who have sex with men were educated on the regimen. In fact, we saw the perpetuation of stigma and miseducation being the chief problem, so we dedicated October to be the month in which we examined as many facets of PrEP as possible in a series, 31 Days of PrEP. Diane Anderson-Minshall addressed the months-long slog to get a celebrity to talk about PrEP for The Advocate's digital cover, which led to a first-person essay on Hollywood's absence on the issue contributing to the low numbers of men on a PrEP regimen. Conversely, Daniel Reynolds found dozens of everyday men, who told us why they take PrEP, what the process is like, and why they encouraged other men to do so. He also rounded up 35 organizations and HIV/AIDS advocates who urged our community to embrace PrEP as a viable and safe method to reduce the risk of spreading HIV, especially among those who are highest risk. Matt Baume explored whether the Hobby Lobby ruling earlier this year may allow employers to discriminate against anyone who take PrEP, or even allow them to block workers from getting it through their company-issued health insurance. Sunnivie Brydum and Thom Senzee examined whether PrEP could be a key component in ending of HIV in the United States and around the world, as no viable cure has yet to be found after decades of research. Dr. Gary McClain advised couples about how to talk about whether a PrEP regimen is right for them, and Mitch Kellaway advised parents on how to have the other "talk" with their gay and bisexual sons about beginning a PrEP regimen. Each day, we published an article by HIV Plus magazine's resident health writer Katie Peoples addressing one of the many myths, and questions that have been circulating about PrEP, unchecked for two years, now. Then Michelle Garcia examined how one of the leading long-time activists for people with HIV was now perpetuating several of the myths around the potentially life-saving regimen. With a new generation of young people who did not have to grow up in the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis, there is plenty of work to be done to educate them. We believe our work to conjure even the slightest conversation around PrEP and this one method of stopping HIV has reduced stigma, inspired smarter conversation, and hopefully safer, healthier readers."

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

What's Wrong With Robotic Surgery? Men's Health Laura Beil 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)


Place: First Place

The story examined the unchecked rise of robotic surgery, especially with regard to prostate removal, why this has occurred, and whether the trend is good for both patients and the medical system in general. Beil looked at whether robotic surgery is a bonafide advance, or whether it is a phenomenon that has arisen from a sophisticated (and often hidden) marketing campaign to patients and doctors. She used FDA and legal documents to explore concerns over the safety of the procedure. 

Judges' comments: Laura Beil used extensive documentation – legal filings, FDA databases, FOI-requested government reports – to create an impressive investigation into the safety and cost-effectiveness of robotic surgery, a common technique controlled by a single manufacturer. Her interviews with patients, doctors, lawyers, policy experts and the maker of the pricey robot tied together a poignant look into the rapid adoption of new a medical technology. The package features clear writing along with practical recommendations for the tens of thousands of people who will undergo robotic surgery in the U.S. each year. 

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

burning concern: San Lorenzo Valley winter air quality fails U.S. standard Santa Cruz Sentinel Jondi Gumz Gumz, Reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

"In winter, the air in San Lorenzo Valley is smoky from wood stoves. It's been that way for decades. In 2014, for the first time, I obtained documentation to show air quality failed the federal standard for 37 days, the third year in a row averaging 32 days (a month) of violations. Not everyone understands the impact of smoky air on health, so I made sure to include that information. The front page attention galvanized county officials to successfully press federal regulators to retain an incentive program to change out smoky wood stoves, which had been in danger of being eliminated. County officials voted to fund more free dump days so as to give people an alternative to burning trash outdoors. Winter isn't over yet, but there have been fewer "bad air day" alerts and fewer angry neighbors saying they can't breathe."

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Orthorexia - When Healthy Becomes Unhealthy San Diego 6 News Neda Iranpour, Reporter, Writer, Anchor (with Tuba Gokceck, Editor; Isaac Cadriel, Photographer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"An eating disorder, although not officially diagnosed, is sweeping the country. Therapists say they are seeing a ise of what’s called "orthorexia nervosa." Patients seeking health are turning their fitness into an obsession.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Free Rhode Island Dental Clinic Restores Smiles Freelance Nicholas "Nick" Holden Gilbert, Writer 2014 Public Health (small)

"The story addressed a major public health concern among Rhode Island residents: lack of access to dental care. Many of the state's residents had not had preventive dental care for years and now had serious dental decay or missing teeth that prevented them from eating to maintain health. Many were unemployed or house bound because they were ashamed of their appearance and would not leve their house. And many liced in constant dental pain and applied topical solutions to "kill" the pain. Some suffered for over a year before accessing treatment. A group of volunteers that included dentists of all kind, physicians, nurses and technicians set up the free dental clinic described in my story. Thousands were treated. Such treatment included fillings, extractions and dentures. One of the persons that is featrued in the story -picture on first page told me that she now was not ashamed to smile - she could smile for the first time in years because she had death. After the story was written several of the subjects interviewed received offers from local dentists to finish any dental care that was needed - for free. Most patients and families have not dental insurance, are unemployed or don't have money to pay for even preventive care. Rhode Island was a state heard hit by the recession, and has yet to recover"

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

San Diegans Fight Cancer with Yoga San Diego 6 News Neda Iranpour, Reporter, Writer, Anchor (with Tuba Gokceck, Editor; Dennis Waldrop, Photographer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

We're now seeing some San Diegans turn to yoga as medicine, a part of their own prescription to healing, even with a disease as severe as cancer. Bhava Ram, a former network war correspondent discusses how yoga saved his life.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Clues emerging about Arctic gene, diet and health Alaska Dispatch Yereth Josette Rosen, Arctic editor/reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

Reports new findings on a gene affecting metabolism among Native people in the Arctic, as well as plans to better screen for the mutation and design dietary and health-care guidelines. New finding are: 1) The genetic mutation, which affects Inuit and related people of the far north, is the product of an evolutionary adaptation to the Arctic environment and Arctic diet; and 2) The genetic mutation is confirmed to exist in the Siberian Native population. In Alaska, newborn screenings are expected to be improved to expand knowledge of the genetic condition, and doctors are hoping to do long-term studies to understand the role of traditional diets in a world where the western diet is becoming dominant. Identification of the condition is crucial to avoiding dire health consequences for infants and children. Special note: This story on CPT1A Arctic variant is an outgrowth of previous coverage of Alaska Native diet issues and the rapid shift from a traditional diet to a more western diet. Those stories are linked as supporting information.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

This Mom Checked Her Newborn Out of the Hospital Early. The Next Day Her Baby Was Taken Away. Freelance Ada Calhoun, Journalist 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This was an exclusive story about a woman who felt betrayed by her hospital. Tiffany Langwell of La Quinta, California, gave birth in August to a healthy, 8-pound baby girl. A day later, a representative of the child welfare agency in Riverside County, California, took the infant into protective custody, saying that a hospital employee suspected Langwell of drug use. A hair follicle test revealed that Langwell had never been on drugs, and her child was returned to her care, but not before she'd missed the first week of her daughter's life.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

High Impact Milwaukee Magazine Richard Louis Rovito, contributing writer 2014 Public Health (small)

Story examined health issues, both short- and long-term, related to sports concussions, primarily among high school and college athletes, and the intensive research on the subject that is being conducted in southeast Wisconsin. The 6,500-word piece includes the personal stories of a number of athletes who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries on the field of play. It also focuses on the research that has been conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin, most of it in relative anonymity until a recent intensified focus on the topic driven by the brain health battles facing former professional football players and a purported cover-up by the National Football League. Story also takes a look at a unique sports head-injury clinic operated by Children's Hospital of Wisconsin that focuses on the treatment of concussions in younger athletes. Key finding is that with proper rest and a graduated return to action, most athletes who suffer concussions will experience little to no long-term ramifications. Conversely, those who don't follow proper protocol are at risk for repeated concussions and possible long-term and often devastating brain health issues, including CTE.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Cancer was killing her. She tried immunotherapy. I wrote this piece as a freelancer for the Washington Post (I am AFP's staff health correspondent) Kerry Sheridan, reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This was a personal narrative of a young woman who found she had months to live after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, and how she enrolled in a clinical trial for immunotherapy that ultimately saved her life. Immunotherapy is considered a major scientific breakthrough and is allowing some -- far from all -- patients to live cancer free for years. This was the first study of its kind to target immune cells against tumors driven by the HPV virus, and it showed promise in two of nine people. Sue Scott was one of them.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

The Eclectic History of Medical Imaging Freelance Greg Freiherr, Contributing Editor (with Melinda Taschetta-Millane, Editorial Director; Dave Fornell, Editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the imaging industry’s largest conference, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), which was a huge milestone for the industry. To help celebrate this milestone and illustrate the massive technological changes the industry has undergone over the past century, ITN worked with its contributing editor to create a comprehensive article that details and highlights the evolution of the imaging industry. The article, which also includes a comprehensive timeline that traces back to the early days of Wilhelm Roentgen discovering the X-ray, to the invention of the computed tomography scanner that was featured on this issue’s cover, and revolutionized imaging technology. The article takes the reader full-circle to today’s current technology, including 3-D breast imaging to aid in cancer detection, and beyond. The article leads its reader through the rich and eclectic past of imaging and its crucial milestones, up to present day technologies.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Cancer's Super-Survivors: How the Promise of Immunotherapy Is Transforming Oncology The Wall Street Journal Ron Winslow 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)


Place: Third Place

After decades of disappointment, drugs that enable the immune system to attack cancer are emerging as a powerful treatment for some patients. Hundreds of people who only a few years ago would likely have died are now surviving for years because of immunotherapy. The story explains the science underlying the treatments and tracks the often surprising experiences of several patients to show how researchers are trying to expand the benefits of cancer immunotherapy to more patients and a wide range of cancers.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Rush to Robotic Surgery Outpaces Medical Evidence, Critics Say Managed Care Magazine Richard Mark Kirkner 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters


Place: Third Place

The growth of robotic operations has exploded in recent years, but a host of nonmedical factors, namely marketing by hospitals and the robot maker itself along with the desire of surgeons to embrace technology, seem to be playing an outsized role in patients’ decisions to have robotic surgery. This cover story explored the economics of robotic surgery in the context of recent medical evidence of two popular robotic operations: radical prostatectomy and hysterectomy. 

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Critical cases Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Luis Fabregas, Medical Editor (with Adam Smeltz, Reporter) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

More than 200 international patients receive organ transplants in the United States every year, competing for organs that otherwise would go to American patients. Experts question whether foreigners receive special treatment because they can pay cash for the procedures.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Last Rights: Dying Well Provider Magazine Bill Myers, Senior Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"The author asks the nearly impossible-to-ask question—is it possible to die well—and then asks an even tougher follow-up: How come so few elder care professionals are asking that question? A cover package that makes "hard-hitting" seem like an understatement, this entry challenges health care workers to reexamine their own fatal attitudes toward the "D-Word," but also offers new ways to think about one of humankind's oldest problems. It also manages to overcome its macabre theme with a vivid, ironic writing voice and plenty of quotes highlighting the bright side of death."

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Medical Device Sidelined Too Late to Save Some The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Levitz, reporter (with Jon Kamp, Special Writer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In November, the Wall Street Journal told the story of Linda Interlichia, Barb Leary and Brenda Leuzzi, three Rochester, N.Y., women who died of cancer after having hysterectomies. The portraits of these three women created a capstone piece for a year-long Journal investigation about a once common medical procedure—the use of a laparoscopic power morcellator, which is used in minimally invasive hysterectomies. Throughout the course of the year, the Journal revealed that doctors and companies evangelized for the device without fully considering the risks or informing patients; the government agency responsible for the safety of medical devices ignored its own internal concerns; and women went into surgery believing they had a simple, benign condition and emerged facing a battle for their lives. The Journal’s coverage unmistakably altered the course of medicine and saved the lives of an untold number of women. “My most fervent wish is to make sure this never happens to anyone else,” Ms. Interlichia told the Journal’s Jennifer Levitz weeks before she died.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Rural Health: Efficient, safe and a lot cheaper Healthcare Dive Katie Bo Williams, Associate Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"Despite an ongoing "rural health crisis" that has resulted in closures across the nation, rural hospitals are on average less expensive and more efficient than their urban counterparts. Healthcare Dive took a trip to an isolated town in the mountains of eastern Tennessee to find out why."

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Murray's Problem Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Mark Johnson 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)


Place: Second Place

The story describes Marquette University scientist Murray Blackmore’s journey to the field of spinal cord injury research, showing how his work was shaped by his mother's spinal cord injury and depicting the conflict between his deeply personal desire to find a cure and science’s demand for detachment and rigor.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Are EHRs Up to the Fight? What Ebola has taught IT Leaders about electronic records and infectious d Health Data Management Elizabeth Gardner, Contributing Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Early on in the discovery of the first U.S. Ebola patient, the hospital's electronic health record system was scapegoated for hiding vital information. The story examines what EHRs can and can't do in times of public health crisis, how communication responsibility should be allocated, how clinical information systems and other IT resources can help, and what adjustments hospital IT departments made in their systems and procedures to address the Ebola issue.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Autism and the changes in the DSM-5 BabyCenter Darienne Hosley Stewart, Writer (with Jennifer Salazar Biddle, Editor; Dana Dubinsky, Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This article explains and helps parents understand recent changes to the definition of autism in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and how those changes may affect children. In interviews with parents, we discovered that many children are being re-diagnosed with milder types of autism, making it much harder for parents to get behavioral intervention and support services. According to the experts we interviewed, one reason for changing the definition was the realization that the genes of people with mild and severe autism are more alike than not. Experts also expect the revised definition to lead to more kids being diagnosed with autism.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

A Community Effort Freelance Sue Rochman, Contributing Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"A Community Effort: Local programs within Native American communities are at the forefront of an effort to increase cancer screening and reduce cancer deaths. From 1990 to 2009, overall cancer incidence and mortality decreased for every racial and ethnic group except Native Americans. This article describes some of the community-based cancer education programs developed to increase cancer screening and early detection among Native Americans. The article explores the work of patient navigators and health educators affiliated with two Native American cancer organizations, the Minnesota-based American Indian Cancer Foundation and the Colorado-based Native American Cancer Research Corporation.It also discusses a partnership between researchers at the University of Oklahoma and the Comanche Nation to train patient navigators and and develop Comanche-specific education programs. The article includes two sidebars. The first, "Health Care for Native Americans," explains the health services Native Americans can access through the federal Indian Health Service program and Contract Health Services. The second, "Cancer Among Native Americans," includes findings from a series of articles published in June 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health that provide the best information to date on cancer incidence and mortality rates among Native Americans."

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Latinos and Autism: Why so many children don't get diagnosed BabyCenter Erika Cebreros, Writer (with Jennifer Salazar Biddle, Editor; Jennifer Robb, Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This article explores some reasons why Latino children are 32 percent less likely than white children to get an autism diagnosis, even though the autism rate has almost doubled in the past decade. Getting an official diagnosis matters because the sooner a child with autism gets help, the better his outcome will be. The article explains why Latinos aren't getting diagnosed with autism at the same rate as whites and provides guidance to parents for getting help. We discovered that although most Latino children get diagnosed around the same age as white children according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a certain segment of the Latino population gets diagnosed much later. This may be the result of patchy healthcare coverage, which could skew statistics from the CDC.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Oldie but goodie: Repurposing penicillin for tuberculosis Freelance Amanda Beth Keener, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story explores how a class of drugs once thought to be useless against tuberculosis may the best hope against drug resistant versions of the infection. The feature follows the history of the drug's use against tuberculosis from the culture dish to dozens of patient case studies, and ultimately into a phase I trial. It turns out the natural insensitivity of tuberculosis to penicillin-like drugs called beta-lactams can be overcome by another group of antibiotics. This opens beta-lactams as a new class of antibiotics in the fight against drug resistant tuberculosis and turns over 50 years of research attesting to their uselessness.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Autism in children: An overview for parents BabyCenter Darienne Hosley Stewart, Writer (with Jennifer Salazar Biddle, Editor; Dana Dubinsky, Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This online feature is an overview for parents who are worried about autism, or for those who have a child recently diagnosed with the condition. It's part of a larger autism project intended to give parents the tools they need to get help for their child with autism. Through interviews with parents, we discovered that it was very common for children to get diagnosed more than once and then lose their services.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

Unintended Consequences: How Government Policies Have Increased the Cost of Cancer Care Oncology Times Lola Jean Butcher, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This series explored federal policies that have increased the cost of cancer care for the Medicare Trust fund, private insurers and patients. By examining three policies (Medicare Modernization Act; 340B pricing for drugs; and Affordable Care Act), the articles show how the government triggered--and then sustained--the migration of cancer care from physician-owned centers to hospital-owned facilities. The articles also explain why care is much more expensive in hospital-owned facilities. The final installment examines whether the migration of cancer care to hospital facilities is good or bad for four stakeholder groups (patients, physicians, payers and hospitals.)

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

How do I get autism services for my child? BabyCenter Karisa Ding, Writer (with Jennifer Salazar Biddle, Editor; Kate Marple, Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This article is about how parents can get treatment services for their child with autism. Susan Hyman, a pediatrician and leading autism expert, says that early behavioral intervention can change the brain's architecture in a child with autism, which is the closest thing parents have to a cure. In interviews with mothers, we discover that the government can't limit or deny early intervention services if parents opt not to reveal health insurance status.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

The Wireless Revolution Nurse.com/Gannett Healthcare Group Cathryn Domrose, Staff writer (with Nick Hut, National editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Times are changing and so are the technology needs of clinicians who want to provide the best possible care to their patients. In some healthcare facilities, bedside nurses carry as many as five mobile devices: a company-issued phone, a pager, a barcode scanner a specimen labeler and their own smartphone. Although the technology for a device that accomplishes everything exists, healthcare organizations are not there yet in acquiring it for their staff. Facilities know they need to provide staff with the best, fastest and most convenient mobile technology without compromising patient privacy or spending money on devices or systems that may become obsolete in a few years. In this feature, nurse leaders discuss the multiple challenges facilities face in making decisions about what they can and will provide for their employees and offer their insights on creating or adopting policies and procedures to protect patients’ privacy, the “BYOD” movement and the rising demand for mobile technology.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

The Broken Hip KERA Lauren Sloss Silverman, Reporter (with Eric Aasen, Digital News Editor; Ryan Tainter, Interactive Content Producer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In “The Broken Hip,” KERA revealed how an ordinary injury -- a hip fracture -- is too often a death sentence for an older person. In the eight-part series, health reporter Lauren Silverman laid out the problem through sensitive and compelling stories, but also gave listeners insight on prevention and new research. When an older person falls and breaks a hip, it's a moment that changes everything. Not just for patients, but for their families, too. Falls are the leading cause of death for older Americans. One of every five people who breaks a hip after age 50 dies within a year. Using these and other staggering statistics as a base, KERA told the stories of families, caregivers and survivors across North Texas. Through a son who lost his father just days after a broken hip, Silverman explored the fractured and often inadequate structure of the health care system. Through the story of a woman who refused to move into a nursing home after a fall, KERA explored new home design and technology to help the elderly “age-in-place.” Interviews with long-distance caregivers gave voice to millions of adult children who travel across the country to assist their aging parents. Each personal story in “The Broken Hip” served as a gateway to complex medical and political reporting on hip fractures. From vast discrepancies in hip repair costs across the country to the past and future of hip fracture surgery. The Broken Hip’s digital presentation takes readers through eight chapters, exploring personal stories of patients, the challenges their families face, and the perspective of doctors who work to heal hip fractures. The digital project includes videos of people featured in the series, an interactive graphic showing how to avoid falling in your bedroom, and graphics that explore the history of hip replacement techniques.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

2014 Jobs Outlook Nurse.com/Gannett Healthcare Group Cathryn Domrose, Staff writer (with Sallie JImenez, National editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Though hands-on bedside care will always be an important part of the nursing profession, RN roles are evolving in every setting. Home health agencies, ambulatory care centers, long-term care facilities and even some medical offices are offering orientations, mentorships and residencies to attract new graduates as well as experienced nurses interested in a career move. What also has changed is that hospital hiring, flat since 2009, is not expected to increase any time soon and nurses are not retiring as quickly as predicted, resulting in a larger nursing workforce. Driving the demand for more prevention, care coordination and primary care is healthcare reform, and in this feature, nursing leaders discuss its impact on job opportunities. Nurse leaders, recruiters, administrators and educators share their observations on the developing and often exciting new roles for nurses in hospitals, medical offices, ambulatory surgery, home health and long-term care facilities.

AHCJ members: Log in to see the archived story and the questionnaire about how the entry was reported.

"The Nebraska Ebola Team: "The whole world was watching" Omaha World-Herald Bob Glissmann, reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Over the course of three months in the latter part of 2014, Ebola became a beat in Omaha, where three patients were treated for the often-deadly virus. At the end of the year, we returned to the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, infection-control experts and researchers who cared for the three patients. They talked about their fears of treating the patients, the pressure they faced because of the scrutiny they were under and the day-to-day routine of working in the biocontainment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center. Readers were given a look at how caregivers took care of the patients and each other in a stressful environment.

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A Lifesaving Skill freelance writer & president, CLS Development, Inc Cynthia Saver, RN, MS, writer (with Nick Hut, National editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The American Heart Association issued a 2013 consensus statement revealing that most people, including healthcare professionals, don’t perform CPR well. The AHA data also confirm what every healthcare professional knows: Higher-quality CPR results in better patient outcomes. In this feature, nursing leaders discuss what they’re doing to help nurses and other professionals improve their CPR techniques. It’s a matter of real-time audio and visual feedback, direct supervision as well as student education and regular practice sessions. Although it takes creativity to find practice time for staff, nursing leaders suggest mock codes, “in situ” simulations and short, regular reviews. Practice DOES make perfect, they say, and it’s a professional responsibility for nurses to not only provide quality CPR to patients but to champion coordinated education efforts. It’s a life-saving skill, and one, when performed properly, can and will save lives. Also included in the longer, online feature are the 2010 AHA recommendations for CPR and emergency cardiovascular care.

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How much would you pay for a year of life? Radiolab, WNYC/New York Public Radio Molly Therese Webster, producer (with Jad Abumrad, host/editor; Robert Krulwich, co-host) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This radio story starts in 2012, when a group of doctors at one of the nation's largest cancer centers decides not to prescribe a cancer drug, a decision that brings up two very difficult questions -- in medical treatment, what is considered a benefit, and what are we willing to pay for that benefit? All told, this story asks how much Americans are willing to pay for one more year of life. It considers not only dollar value, but grapples with how we even begin to have such a conversation.

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Treating the MInd: Part I & Part II Nurse.com/Gannett Healthcare Group Cathryn Domrose, Staff writer (with Sallie JImenez, National editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Studies show all healthcare providers, wherever they are practice, regularly see people with mental health problems who need professional help and care. There is a real and growing need for nurses to identify more frequently seen mental health issues, such as depression, and know when to bring someone in with more expertise. This first part of a two-part online series builds a strong case for nursing students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, to learn how to identify, assess, treat and refer patients who are mentally ill. Given the “right tools” of a solid theoretical knowledge base, clinical exposure and experience, and specialty integration, they can successfully and confidently care for these patients. Part two focuses on programs nationwide that support mental health RNs and nurse practitioners. Despite bedside challenges, severe shortages of mental health providers in rural areas and preconceived notions about mental illness, nurses engaged in mental health practice understand that treating mental health conditions is no different than treating other health problems. And it’s usually through education and training that nurses also realize mental health issues are widespread and that those who suffer from them deserve the same compassion and respect as any other patient.

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New Dimensions: 3D printing is revolutionizing the medical industry freelance Sonya Collins, writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"The story explores the ways 3D printing is contributing to personalized medicine, from inexpensive, made-to-order prosthetic limbs to printing organs made with the organ recipients own cells in order to eliminate wait-lists and the potential for organ rejection. 3D printing is lowering costs, reducing wait times and wiping out the concept of "one-size-fits-most" medical treatment."

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Sound Science Chemical & Engineering News Lisa M Jarvis, senior editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The article explores drugs being developed to combat hearing loss, a sector that at present is largely untouched by the pharmaceutical industry. The potential market is large, however, and several small biotech firms are now working on it. Some are pursuing drugs that target the inner ear, where sound is first perceived, whereas others are focused on the central nervous system, where sound is processed. Some want to treat damage that has already occurred; others hope to prevent it. Several of their projects are reaching late-stage development, and big pharma is starting to pay attention.

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Too Many Scans? Freelance Ginny Graves, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Ever had a chest CT scan? Then you’ve received as much radiation as some survivors of Hiroshima. Health reveals this and other underreported dangers of medical imaging tests in its groundbreaking investigation, “Too Many Scans?”—and gives readers the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their families. Writer Ginny Graves begins by laying out some stark statistics: The use of CT scans—three-dimensional, highly detailed, computer-aided X-ray images—has skyrocketed in the last three decades, going from 3 million in 1980 to 76 million in 2013. These tests can be lifesaving, helping doctors diagnose everything from internal injuries to hard-to-find cancers. Unfortunately, they’re also widely overutilized. Perhaps a third of CT scans are medically unnecessary, exposing millions of us each year to unneeded ionizing radiation (the kind that damages DNA, potentially leading to cancer). It’s alarming news, but Health empowers readers to stay safe. The article provides clear explanations of the link between ionizing radiation and cancer, and shows how patients can work with doctors to minimize radiation exposure while still getting the best possible medical care. Carefully curated sidebars pack in service. “Five Questions to Ask Before You Have That Scan” gives exact scripts to follow when a doctor suggests a scan. “You Probably Don’t Need a CT For…” details five scenarios in which CTs are overused (heads up: a blow to the noggin often does not warrant imaging tests). And “Your Anti-Radiation Diet” reports on brand-new research suggesting that an antioxidant-rich diet could shield your body from radiation damage—excellent reason to load up on pumpkin and papaya. Online-only reporting features a cost comparison of different types of imaging tests and tips on how to find the best facility to get a scan. Smart, authoritative and step-by-step practical, this feature is everything readers expect from Health: timely information that they can use to stay well, for now and years to come.

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Inside Ebola Chemical & Engineering News Lisa M Jarvis, senior editor (with Bethany Halford, senior editor; Britt E. Erickson, senior editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Innumerable media outlets wrote about the Ebola scare in the U.S., and many top-tier publications with staff in Africa covered the epidemic from the ground there. But few publications really went inside Ebola to explore how the virus propagates and what approaches researchers are taking to develop therapeutics, vaccines,and diagnostics to combat it. That's what C&EN's story did. The coverage was accessible to the interested lay reader but scientifically rigorous enough to appeal to the magazine's chemist readers.

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What Suicidal Depression Feels Like Everyday Health, Inc. Therese Borchard, Columnist (with Nancie George, Senior Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Tens of thousands of Americans die from suicide every year, yet fear of stigma and lack of awareness hinders so many from getting the help they desperately need. Everyday Health Sanity Break blogger Therese Borchard breaks through the silence, talking about her personal struggles with suicidal depression in her column “What Suicidal Depression Feels Like.” Borchard posted her blog in the weeks following the suicide death of comedian-actor Robin Williams, whose struggles with depression and substance abuse were well-known. “If this brutal beast of an illness is strong enough to kill someone with the passion, determination, and genius of Robin Williams, then we must do everything we can to protect those who are more fragile,” she writes. Borchard describes what suicidal depression feels like in simple yet vivid terms. She likens the urgency to take one’s life to a sneeze, an impulse so strong “that you simply follow your body’s command without thinking too much of it. All you’re feeling is an incredible itch to sneeze, and you’re certain that anything short of sneezing wouldn’t relieve you of the sensation.” Brave and moving, Borchard’s blog addresses a major mental health problem at the human level and tells a personal story that gives voice to countless others.

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Clinical Management Freelance Geri Aston, Contributing writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The Clinical Management series details trends impacting various hospital service lines. As reimbursement, technology and staffing trends continue to evolve, hospitals must evolve their service lines to meeting the needs of a new health care economy.

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Battling Ebola: A View From the Front Line WebMD Jeri Sumitani, Freelance writer (with Ashley Hayes, Senior News Editor; Valarie Basheda, Director, News and Special Reports) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"Ebola was the big news story in health this year and dominated our coverage for several months. As a small news staff, our goal was to cover the story in a way that mattered most to our readers, and to bring to light stories that weren't covered by everyone else. Lacking the staff or resources of a big news organization, we wanted to find a creative way to bring coverage to our readers. Jeri Sumitani is a U.S.-trained physician’s assistant who volunteered to help treat Ebola patients at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. She provides a first-hand account of some of the faces she encountered behind the numbers of Ebola victims – a moving look at those who died, those who lived and those doing their best to carry on in the face of an enormous and frightening epidemic that has affected many aspects of their daily lives. In addition, Jeri was able to relate the profound effects of volunteering in such an environment. “It was so easy to feel like we were fighting an isolated battle while the rest of the world celebrated the holidays,” she said. She also wanted to portray the outbreak in the larger context of a failing health care system in one of the world’s poorest countries. The problems in Sierra Leone, she says, extend far beyond Ebola. The series gave us a unique way to call attention to the plight of those affected by the Ebola outbreak and provide insight to the human suffering taking place. Readers could visualize the "Ebola stare" that Jeri saw in her patients, hear the mournful singing of a child who saw her dying mother, and feel her pain as she tried to decide who among the sick and dying deserved care that day in the limited unit. She also shared her emotional ups and downs -- the fear she might have Ebola, her anger at the lack of resources, and her anguish at having to tell loved ones their family members had died and been buried in an unknown location."

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Embracing Risk Freelance Howard Larkin, Contributing writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Negotiating the inevitable transition to value-based care requires local market savvy and knowledge of population risks. Hospitals need to respond to new entrants competing for market share in this value-drive economy.

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Save Your Own Life AARP The Magazine Staff, Editor (with Mike Zimmerman, Writer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

You hear about these people all the time: the woman who swims to safety after her car plunges over a bridge; the man who stares down a bear and lives to tell the story; the family that survives three nights in the desert in the middle of August. And you think: I wonder how they did that. Well, wonder no more. In “Save Your Own Life: Seven Strategies to Help You Come Out Smiling (or, at the very least, breathing),” we take the reader through seven dire scenarios and offer them the best advice on how to survive against all odds. In addition to the scenarios mentioned above, the story also tells what you need to do to survive a plane crash, a heart attack (while alone), hitting a deer while driving, and falling down the stairs. This piece appealed to readers on so many levels: It offered tremendously useful and counterintuitive advice—Did you know you’re supposed to speed up when you see a deer rather than hit the brakes? Or that the best crash position is hands loosely at your sides and forehead on the seat in front of you?— from the top experts in the field. It addressed our most widely anticipated but often unacknowledged fears. And it was just fun to read.

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The Boomer Challenge Hospitals & Health Networks Paul Barr, Senior Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This special series examines the many ways the nation's 75 million baby boomers will impact the U.S. health care system as they age into retirement and senior citizenhood.

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Rural Doctor Launches Start-up to East Pain of Dying Patients KQED Public Radio April Dawn Dembosky, Health Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This is a moving portrait of people living in far-flung rural areas and the difficulties they have getting care at the end of their lives. It profiles the sole doctor in a 120-mile stretch who provides palliative care services to people in Humboldt County, California, and the fledgling business idea he has to skirt hospital and government billing policies that, he says, restrict delivery of this important care to people in rural areas and Indian reservations.

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Lung cancer screening guideline debated American College of Physicians Stacey Butterfield, Senior associate editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The story analyzes a controversial recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to begin screening a large number of older adults for lung cancer using computed tomography. The evidence supporting the recommendation is summarized, including the limitations of the single large trial on which the recommendation is based. Experts in the field offer their arguments for how the recommendation goes too far, doesn’t go far enough, or is just right.

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Immunotherapy brings new hope to cancer fight freelance Sonya Collins, writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"Feature story on immunotherapy, a cutting edge form of cancer treatment that helps the body's own immune system fight cancer. The story includes people with extremely grim prognoses who were cured of cancer through immunotherapy. One of those sources was the second to be treated in a clinical trial using an as-yet-unapproved method of reengineering the patients own T cells to fight leukemia. Story explains the science, where it stands, where FDA approvals stand, and tells the story of people whose lives have been saved. In my experience interviewing scientists and doctors about new treatments for any condition, they always avoid saying "cure," but in this story, experts told me candidly that immunotherapy could be a cure for cancer."

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Dealing with drug-seeking behavior American College of Physicians Stacey Butterfield, Senior associate editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

In light of the epidemic of opioid abuse in the U.S., this article looks at physicians' difficulty treating patients whom they suspect are seeking care primarily to acquire narcotic medications. Typical practice in this situation, which often includes inaccurate patient profiling, is described, and some potential improvements, vetted by experts and the evidence, are suggested to help individual physicians who find themselves in such a situation. Systemic solutions, including controlled prescription databases, are also analyzed.

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Genetically Modify Food Intelligence Squared U.S. STAFF, STAFF 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"A non-partisan, nonprofit debate organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis, and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. Recorded in front of a live, voting audience, IQ2US pursues this mission through an annual series of Oxford-style debates, featuring two teams of experts arguing for and against a provocatively worded resolution. The award-winning series has reached millions through multi-platform distribution, including live streaming (via FORA.tv), radio (225+ NPR stations nationwide), television (formerly on Bloomberg and PBS), podcasts, and interactive digital content. With close to 100 debates, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to "think twice" on a wide range of provocative topics. The debates have attracted some of the world's top thinkers, including economist Paul Krugman, Dr. Neal Barnard, writer Malcolm Gladwell, former governor Howard Dean, philosopher Peter Singer, best-selling author Andrew Solomon, former surgeon general David Satcher, entrepreneur Peter Thiel, activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, law professor Zephyr Teachout, and former CIA director Michael Hayden. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. Dana Wolfe is the executive producer. In December 2014, IQ2US debated the motion “Genetically Modify Food,” bringing Monsanto to our stage, breaking the company’s long reputation of evading public debate and critical conversation. Across the country and around the world, communities are fighting the cultivation of genetically engineered crops for health, environmental, and safety concerns. But are we better off with GM foods than without them? Arguing in favor of GM food: Monsanto's VP and Chief Technology Officer Robert Fraley, and Alison Van Eenennaam, a genomics and biotechnology researcher from UC Davis. Arguing against the cultivation of GM crops: Charles Benbrook, from the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Margaret Mellon, formerly of the Union of Concerned Scientists."

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For hospitalists, the times are changing American College of Physicians Stacey Butterfield, Senior associate editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Health care reform is expected to have dramatic effects on hospital finances, and this article investigates how those changes will affect hospital medicine. The reporter surveyed the top hospitalists in the business side of the industry for their predictions, sometimes conflicting, on how many hospitals are likely to go out of business and how many hospitalist jobs could be lost or gained under Obamacare. The article also offers advice to practicing hospitalist physicians on how to succeed during this upheaval and prove their value to employers and patients.

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WNYC's Clock Your Sleep Project WNYC Radio Mary Harris, Senior Producer (with John Keefe, Senior Editor for Data News; Paige Cowett, Associate Producer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

For two months, WNYC took on the challenge of covering sleep as a health, economic, and cultural issue while also engaging the audience in a data experiment to see whether tracking sleep could improve sleep in the New York area. WNYC produced a mobile app as well as a website dedicated to tracking and analyzing sleep patterns. Over 4,500 people signed up to participate and after the first month, participants’ average sleep times increased. There were also over 25 on-air radio segments on varying aspects of sleep.

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Why I'm Opting Out of Mammography freelance Christie Aschwanden, independent journalist 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This invited essay explains my decision to opt out of screening mammography. It also recounts the difficulties I faced discussing mammography with my physician. I hoped to make a shared decision, based on my values, the best available evidence and my doctor's expertise. But she denied me this opportunity.

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Can You Build A Better Brain? WebMD Valarie Basheda, Director, News and Special Reports (with Brenda Goodman, Senior Health Writer; Sonya Collins, Health Writer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

The premise sounds cool: play a video game and improve your memory. That’s the promise of brain training, which has quickly grown into a $1.3 billion industry. But what do we know about how well they work? That was the goal of WebMD’s special report, “Can You Train A Better Brain?” Before consumers spend their money, we wanted to give them in-depth information about how brain training is being used, what the research shows about its value, and what works to maintain or improve brain health. While the largest segment focuses on training to prevent memory loss, it’s being tried in for many other applications: for kids with learning disorders, athletes looking for a mental edge and burn victims looking to ease the pain of their treatments. People can in some cases pay significant amounts of money for the programs, which are largely unregulated at this point. Although the FDA and FTC have the power to regulate the claims these companies can make, neither agency has yet exercised their authority to reign in the industry. As a result, dozens of companies are claiming that they can help ADHD, autism, and even treat substance abuse and memory problems. Experts generally agreed that although brain training has promise, the marketing is ahead of the science. One expert called the companies selling the products “unethical” and likened it to the supplement industry. One family spent $10,000 to try to help their learning disabled daughter, with no results to show for it. LearningRx, the brain training company that offered the training, basically admitted they did nothing to help the child. Brain training for learning disabilities is one of the more complicated areas of research . Parents can be desperate to do anything for their kids, and experts say research is definitely mixed. And like many things, what helps one child may not help another. Brain training may eventually be something that’s part of an overall plan to help kids, but the jury is still out. As for memory, diet and exercise are not nearly as sexy as video games, but they are as important to our brains as they are to our waistline. And as for activities, anything that engages us to use our minds in a different way can be a help. One of the areas where research did show some initial promise was for pain treatment. But research has been hampered because the headgear used for the virtual reality treatment is clunky and difficult to use.

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Double-whammy discrimination Freelance Rebecca Clay, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"Aimed primarily at the 88,000 clinicians, educators, and researchers who subscribe to the American Psychological Association's membership magazine Monitor on Psychology, "Double-whammy discrimination" reveals the dangers of overlooking older patients' sexual orientation and gender identity in health-care encounters. Ignoring this aspect of diversity – and the diversity within the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) population – contributes to health disparities, including worse mental health and unhealthier behavior than heterosexual elders. It can even prove deadly, as unwelcoming environments cause older LGBT patients to delay seeking health-care services until problems become crises. The article outlines the special challenges -- and resiliencies – of older LGBT individuals, reviews the literature on the impact of health-care providers' ignorance or discomfort, and offers tips for creating an LGBT-friendly environment for older patients."

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Healthcare countdown: A Free Press Special Report Detroit Free Press Robin Erb, Medical Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Helping readers sort through federal health care changes and the state’s new Medicaid program was a mission of the Free Press early in 2014 – and triggered an avalanche of response. In the final months of enrollment under federal health reform, it was clear to medical reporter Robin Erb that readers continued to be confused about the law – what kind of insurance to buy, how much it would cost, how tax credits work, who gets penalized, and more. Erb heard it over and over again: Many people felt overwhelmed. Over two months, the Free Press published two companion special sections, answered questions from readers, consulted experts for their advice and published a stream of stories and Q&As. In addition to covering the consumer frustration and political wrangling over the www.healthcare.com rollout, the Free Press took on the more tedious task of breaking down the law so it was usable for readers overwhelmed by this other noise. The pieces were broken out in a series of special consumers sections, including this 10-page package. In each of these special sections, we instructed and engaged readers as it seemed everyone – from first-time buyers to experts and veterans working in the field – struggled to sort out this new law. We had goals on two different trajectories: one in reporting the nuances for the savvy consumer and experts in the field, and the other in explaining insurance fundamentals (what’s coinsurance vs. copayment?) for first-time buyers. Online, the packages ran on a special help page, www.freep.com/healthreform, which updated with breaking news, drawing almost 10,000 page views by itself. Both print sections included lists of insurers on Michigan’s state exchange as well as contact information. Additionally, a large chart broke down the costs of the plans offered on Michigan’s exchange.

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How Can Primary Care Doctors and Patients Find the Most Experienced Specialists? Globe1234.info Paul Burke, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This web report is written for generalist doctors as well as motivated patients, to find the most experienced specialists for almost any medical or surgical procedure, anywhere in the country. The article starts with research results showing that the doctors who do any procedure the most tend to be best. Several studies recommend choosing high-volume doctors, to get the best care. The article discusses that approach and how to find such specialists. The article covers issues in working with these specialists, such as avoiding fraudsters, being wary of over-used procedures, and getting 2nd opinions from low-volume doctors for comparison. The strength of the article is its data on high- and low-volume doctors for each medical procedure in each part of the country, as a way to find high-quality doctors. The article gives examples of how to use the data to do a national or regional search, not just for famous hospitals, but for individual doctors, who may not be famous. The search area depends on the mobility of the patient and the importance of the health issue to that patient. Besides doctors' experience, the article addresses care in teaching hospitals, average costs, ranges of costs, and total costs of surgeon(s), anesthesiologist and facility. The end of the article gives a broad review of, and links to, other ways to find more information on doctors, including some strengths and weaknesses of ratings by other doctors and by patients, comparison of practice patterns among doctors, payments from medical companies, and ways to do national searches of disciplinary and legal actions. The article is on an active page of the website, http://Globe1234.info, which needs to change with the news, so I archived the December version of this article on http://Globe1234.info/2014dec. It matches the pdf submitted to AHCJ, and will stay unchanged. Besides the link to the 2014 text, I provided links to excel spreadsheets which have the names of medical procedures (1 megabyte, globe1234.org/dproc.xlsx), and the highest-volume doctors for each procedure nationally (7 megabytes, globe1234.org/d200.xlsx).

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Virus Hunters with David Quammen The Weather Channel STAFF, N/A 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

The way man is changing nature is causing dangerous viruses to slip into the human population. One of the underreported effects of expansion of human settlement and environmental destruction and general disruption of nature by human kind is an increase in the potential for unique devastating viruses to spill over into the world’s population. “Virus Hunters” tells the 100-year-old story of HIV, thousand-year old story of Rabies and the Hendra virus, a largely unknown virus that has only recently emerged in Australia, among others. David Quammen spent six years writing and researching his book, “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.” Weather Films saw an amazing opportunity to bring his words to life. We were able to convince Quammen, one of the most highly respected science and nature journalists in the world—who had never worked in the world of video before—to turn his book into a web video series to share with The Weather Channel audience. We traveled all over the United States, and as far as Australia, to meet scientists and researchers who are battling the elements in the field to uncover the mysteries of these zoonotic diseases. We continued to work with Quammen throughout our production process process. Together, we produced six web-only episodes. Each featured a different zoonotic disease, including HIV, Ebola, Hanta, Hendra, Marbug and Rabies. Many of the concepts and details about the diseases were difficult to explain on paper, let alone through a camera lens. With narrative storytelling, graphics and compelling interviews, we managed to communicate the facts effectively while maintaining editorial integrity and scientific rigor. The series has an extremely high production value for the resources we had. We produced it will extremely small crews, often with just one camera and one producer. It was shot on non-broadcast-quality cameras, but the quality of production was on par with broadcast documentary programming. Our mission was unique and quite complicated: take a scientific text and bring it to life on the screen. In an age where digital journalism is at its height, rarely is there a video that accompanies a written piece on research on virology that is exciting to watch. We believe we have broken that mold with “Virus Hunters.”

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Tumor sequencing takes off, but insurance reimbursement lags Nature Medicine Shraddha Chakradhar Chakradhar, Assistant News Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

We hear about tumor sequencing being an important and useful tool in cancer treatment, but who is actually using it in their day-to-day practice? This story answers that question and reveals that currently, tumor sequencing is largely conducted at major cancer centers and research hospitals. Furthermore, this article also explains that the reason only these major centers are performing tumor sequencing tests is because financing the technique is problematic. Insurance companies don't yet reimburse sequencing for most cancers because there aren't many published studies that show the efficacy of tumor sequencing. Bigger centers have endowments and private donations that allow for their patients to be financially covered. For many patients with rare or unresponsive cancers who do not live near a major cancer center, the lack of insurance reimbursement proves a major disadvantage. Few other articles that have discussed the promises of tumor sequencing have also investigated the challenges of paying for it, so this piece is unique in that regard. The piece not only emphasizes the potential tumor sequencing has as a diagnostic method but also outlines the challenges in obtaining FDA approval for new diagnostics prior to having insurance companies reimburse the associated costs.

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When Medical Marijuana Doesn't Work WebMD R. Scott Rappold, Freelance writer (with Valarie Bashedas, Director, News and Special Reports) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Many media outlets, including WebMD, wrote stories about the desperate families that move to Colorado seeking medical marijuana for their children with seizure disorders. At the same time, we also wanted to go more in-depth on the other side of that story: what happens when medical marijuana doesn’t help. Although we touched on that in our initial story, we weren't able to get any families to come forward and talk on the record. But after writer Scott Rappold earned their trust through reporting and writing his first story, they were more willing to come forward. In addition to offering personal stories, Rappold's story also highlights that there’s very little research on how well medical marijuana works on seizure disorders in children. Some epilepsy doctors estimate it only helps 1 in 4 children. While advocates didn’t agree to numbers that low, even they estimated that medical marijuana showed great success only 25% of the time and provided some help about 50% of the time. That leaves a quarter of children who will see no benefit at all.

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Resurrecting the 'Yuppie Vaccine' Freelance Cassandra Willyard, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

LYMErix, the first vaccine against the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, debuted in 1999. Three years later the manufacturer pulled it from the market amid a flurry of lawsuits that claimed the vaccine could cause arthritis and other problems. Although there is little evidence the vaccine caused the side effects that critics say it did, it has never been reintroduced, and no other Lyme vaccine has been approved for humans. The scandal that brought down LYMErix seems to have had a chilling effect on the entire field. My article examines the history of LYMErix and explores what it might take to get a new vaccine to market.

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The Politics of Poison The Center for Public Integrity, Reveal from CIR and PRX, Michigan Radio David Heath, Senior Reporter (with Michael Montgomery, Reporter/Broadcast Producer, Center for Investigative Reporting; Rebbeca Williams, Reporter/Producer, Michigan Radio) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In June 2014 the Center for Public Integrity – in partnership with “Reveal,” an investigative radio program produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, and Michigan Radio – unveiled a shocking story of political interference in an urgent matter of public health. In “Politics of Poison,” CPI reporter David Heath found that a single member of Congress used a little-known legislative ploy to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from publishing its new scientific findings on the dangers of arsenic. It’s a rare inside look at mechanics of lobbying, and how it can have a serious impact on all of us. We all consume small amounts of arsenic, sometimes in our drinking water, often in our rice, even in our beer and wine. EPA scientists had determined that the current drinking-water standard for arsenic was still potentially deadly. In fact, the EPA determined that if you drank the legal limit of arsenic every day, you had nearly a 1 percent chance of getting lung or bladder cancer. But the congressman, Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican, said he was concerned that small communities couldn’t meet tougher drinking water standards. So he questioned the EPA’s ability to do science. He secretly inserted language in a report attached to the 2012 spending bill that ordered the EPA to turn its work over to the National Academy of Sciences. That may not sound so bad, but it’s a common delay tactic used by the chemical industry. This was all done in secret. Even other members of the House Appropriations Committee had no idea who was behind the delay. Yet Heath found traces of evidences in various documents pointing to Simpson. When the Congressman failed to respond to calls and emails, Heath tracked Simpson down in the hallway outside a hearing and got him to confess. What really makes the story unusual is that Heath also got the lobbyist and one of the companies that sought the delay to sit down for a lengthy interview. Two pesticide companies sell a weed killer containing arsenic. If they could delay the EPA report, they could actually lift an EPA ban on their product. Their strategy worked. And as a result, arsenic is still being sprayed on golf courses, next to highways and in cotton fields. Research suggests that this arsenic ends up in our drinking water. It’s unclear now when the agency’s arsenic review will be finished, even though scores of studies have linked arsenic not just to cancer, but also to heart disease, diabetes and strokes. People like Wendy Brennan, who lives in rural Maine with her two daughters and two grandchildren, have been left to worry about all the arsenic-tainted water they’ve consumed. Brennan participated in a study by Columbia University researchers, where she first learned she had arsenic in her water. “My eldest daughter said … ‘You’re feeding us rat poison,’ ” Brennan said. “I said, ‘Not really,’ but I guess essentially, that is what you’re doing. You’re poisoning your kids.” On June 28, CPI published two stories and an interactive map; follow-up pieces were published in July and December. A 16-minute “Reveal” segment, with Heath as correspondent, aired on some 200 public radio stations beginning June 28. On June 30, Michigan Radio launched a five-part series that focused on the arsenic problem in that state.

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An Update on Breast Density and Cancer Screening Imaging Technology News Raissa Rocha, Associate Editor (with Melinda Taschetta-Millane, Editorial Director; Dave Fornell, Editor) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

One of the biggest issues in radiology and women's health, spilling over frequently into the popular media, has been concern over breast tissue density. Women with dense breasts have a higher chance of getting breast cancer and a lower probability of it getting detected on mammograms, because cancer looks the same as dense tissue and is very hard to differentiate. However, until recently, women were not informed about their breast density and how that might impact the the diagnosis. This resulted in patient-led initiatives to draft laws in each state to inform women and then explain what their options are. It is a major change in radiology and ITN has been in the forefront, offering regular updates on the issue.

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Under 60 and Living with Dementia Next Avenue Dan Browning, Contributing Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In a deeply moving series for Next Avenue, Dan Browning chronicled his family's experience coping with his wife's frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Through 14 blog entries, he explains the shock of Liz's diagnosis at age 53 after exhibiting strange behavior, chronicles the search for treatment, shows the impact on his children, and tells how he made morally wrenching choices about his wife’s health and fate. Along the way, Dan offers in-depth reporting about FTD and a host of caregiving issues; he is a full-time health reporter for Minneapolis’ Star Tribune. Beyond the news, Dan provided encouragement, hope and an honest look at what the disease does to those who suffer from it and those who care for them. FTD ultimately took Liz's life, and Dan wrote eloquently about that loss. His story is one of compassion, action and family resilience in the face of a terrible disease. Next Avenue published the blog as a special report, adding resources, video and links to additional stories to provide a deeper understanding of early-onset dementia and its impact on families.

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The Basics for Evaluating New Technology Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology Dave Fornell, Editor (with Melinda Taschetta-Millane, Editorial Director) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

DAIC covers the latest technology advances in cardiology. This article started out as an editor's column, but we decided to expand it into an article because it offered good advice on how to break down technology into its most basic components for analysis. It summarizes key points for readers to keep in mind when they are seriously evaluating a new technology. The points are universal truths that could easily be transferred for evaluation of technologies in other industries. The article spurred several comments on our social media postings.

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The Survival Guide to Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed U.S. News & World Report Stephanie Steinberg, Assistant Editor of Money and Health 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This story is intended for patients who are about to get their wisdom teeth removed or are recovering from the procedure. The article is meant to answer basic questions concerning what patients can and can't eat, what medications they can take as well as when they can return to their daily routine, including work and exercise.

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Remembering, and respecting, the most vulnerable ACP Hospitalist Jessica Berthold, editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

There's a lot of misunderstanding about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), and that includes in hospitals. Physicians receive little to no training on how to manage patients with IDD, and administrators may feel their staff don't encounter these patients frequently enough to merit training. Yet, being unfamiliar with this population can carry a stiff price, as patients with IDD are more likely to come to the emergency department, have longer hospital stays, and be readmitted. As well, rates of diagnosed disabilities like autism are rising, and more patients with IDD are treated in community hospital settings than in the past. Most of all, learning to treat patients who are differently abled is the ethical thing to do. This story looks at hospitals that have taken concrete steps to improve care of the patient population with IDD, and outlines what physicians can do at their own hospitals to ensure these patients are cared for respectfully and appropriately

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Final Independence Freelance Jeanne Margaret Erdmann, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

A few years ago, my two sisters, my mother, and I sat in the conference room of an elder-care attorney and updated my mother's legal paperwork. She was 97-years-old at the time and my mother granted her powers of attorney to me, both financial and healthcare. I have long been her primary caregiver, and I have always known her end-of--life wishes. After that day, I felt confident that I could speak on her behalf and she could have the death she wanted, peaceful and without heroics. Today, at age 99, my mother is still alive but is increasingly frail physically, and her dementia is worse. I became less confident about being able to grant her wishes after attending the end-of-life sessions at HealthJournalism2014. Those presentations inspired this story. I have since learned that doctors and healthcare professionals anywhere, for any reason, can ignore advance directives, even those written with explicit requests. Now, I'm convinced, that unless my mother dies at home we may have a fight on our hands, despite her age, and despite her declining cognitive abilities. My story explains and explores the subtleties of advance directives and how physicians view them, and why they ignore them. Geography greatly determines whether end-of-life wishes will be honored. So do politics. After early landmark cases in which parents fought to remove feeding tubes or ventilators from their mortally-injured children, advance directives enjoyed non-partisan support. Now, the religious right has folded this issue into their right-to-life arguments. Dementia complicates everything, most especially when it comes to feeding someone in the late-stages of this disease--no matter what's been written in a directive.

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"Cultural Obstacles to Aging With Grace" Provider Magazine Bill Myers, senior editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The author looks at a host of cultural symbols (from poet Philip Larkin to T.V. icon Betty White), talks to several experts and canvasses the latest in aging research to ask whether America is ready to grow up--or just grow old. The pieces in the cover package challenge elder care workers to rethink some of their own assumptions about the people they care for.

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Comparing the Quality of Childbirth in Massachusetts WBUR Martha Bebinger, reporter (with Forrest Marvez, Web Developer; Tom Melville, News Director) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Childbirth is the arguably the most important event in all of our lives. C-sections are the most common surgery performed in the United States. We know that the quality of deliveries varies from one hospital to the next, but in what ways and how much? Finding out has been a major research project in Massachusetts, until now. We conducted dozens of interviews to determine how experts measure the quality of childbirth. We narrowed the list to five well established measures that would be of use and of interest to dozens of expectant mothers we surveyed. We pulled the latest available data, both public and private and gathered data that was not already collected. We created a map so that women and their families could compare hospitals statewide or in their area. We have a chart that shows viewers how each hospital compares on each measure. The package (map and chart) includes an explanation for every measure. The charts highlight major differences on all the measures, perhaps most significantly in first time C-sections (13% to 31%) and episiotomies (1% to 31%). These are differences that matter for many women, differences they could not have known about, without a lot of work, before the release of this story. Even early elective deliveries, something that was supposed to have become a “never event” at Massachusetts hospitals, were still being reported at roughly half of the hospitals in the state. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that women have a single source for one-stop quality shopping for childbirth.

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Blood Feud: The Debate Over How Long Blood Lasts Freelance Jeanne Margaret Erdmann, Writer (with NA, ) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Donated blood may not have a very long shelf life. At least not as long as we think it might. Nearly 14 million units (or bags) of red blood cells are transfused in the United States every year. Those in charge of collecting and distributing blood need to ensure that enough of this resource is always available, most especially because the national supply depends on donations from volunteers. To preserve this resource, hospital blood banks use the oldest blood first (kind of like moving the oldest dairy products to the front of the shelf in grocery stores). Although preservatives allow plastic bags of red blood cells to be stored up to 42 days on refrigerated shelves, by the end of that time the red cells age. As weeks go by, the chemistry and shape of red cells change so much that they're much less able to carry life-saving oxygen. That's certain. Less certain is whether those changes affect patient outcomes. Although donated blood is tested for pathogens, it's not tested for quality. Some doctors who care for very sick patients who also need a lot of transfusions are convinced that patients who receive older blood don't do as well. Proving so is extremely difficult because clinical trials need to be large enough to find any differences, and because it's considered unethical to give any patients only the oldest blood. So far, results of clinical trials have been mixed, with some trials showing no difference, and other trials showing that older blood could be more dangerous. Until recently, there have been very few prospective clinical trials.

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A Beautiful Death [A Guide to the End of Life] Consumer Reports Nancy Pappas Metcalf, Senior editor (with Joel Keehn, Deputy Content Editor, Health & Food; Gwendolyn Bounds, Senior Director, Consumer Reports Video) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Paul Scheier had 38 days to live. With his death imminent from lung cancer, he chose not to spend his final weeks fighting the inevitable—but rather enjoying lunch at his favorite pub, playing liar’s poker with friends, and saying goodbye to his family. He also agreed to have his journey chronicled by Consumer Reports, believing that was a last meaningful gesture he could make to help others. Paul Scheier’s story anchored a unique multiplatform project that included a major magazine article and a special Web page featuring a 17-minute documentary film, online audio clips from Paul’s doctor and family, links to end-of-life caregiver resources, data-driven graphics, and access to Consumer Reports’ custom Stori.es platform for readers to share their experiences—each piece of content unique to its medium. “A Beautiful Death” is a poignant, deeply moving package that celebrates life and poses profound questions about how we choose to die. The multimedia experience offers readers and viewers a different way to think about one’s mortality. The American medical complex today encourages an increasingly frail person to undergo numerous treatments that can leave families emotionally—and often financially—broken. From the moment of diagnosis, Paul opted to forgo chemotherapy or other aggressive treatment and to use his final months to get affairs in order for his wife and children—and to truly savor life. “I felt it was getting close to my time, so why not live happily for the next six months or year?” he told us. Even as his body became weak and his breathing labored, 87-year-old Paul Scheier showed that it is possible to choose the way one wants to die.

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One and Done: Raise Awareness of Safe Injection Practices Freelance Mark Towle Harris, Contributing Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"The story reports on "The One and Only Campaign," a new public health initiative led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC), to raise awareness among patients and healthcare providers about safe injection practices. Surprisingly, unsafe injection practices are not as rare as one might assume. Since 2001 more than 150,000 patients have been impacted by unsafe injection practices, with at least 48 documented disease outbreaks occurring, mostly in ambulatory care settings. The outbreaks involved hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and bacterial infections. The story explores the reasons for unsafe practices and examines how the CDC and other healthcare professionals are working to address this problem in the health care system."

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PriceCheck KQED News Staff, Editor (with KPCC News/SCPR (Southern California Public Radio), ; ClearHealthCosts.com, ) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Health care costs lack transparency. Specifically, it is impossible for consumers to determine prices across insurers. We launched a crowdsourcing project to shed light on these prices. We asked the audience of our three organizations to share prices of what they were charged, what their insurers paid and their own co-pay (if any). We did specific on-air callouts, one per month, during the four-month prototype period. We reported on the prices and variation we found during the month of each callout. To our knowledge, no other project of this type has ever been done. This type of public and detailed price information is rare. We were funded by a prototype grant from the Knight Foundation.

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Why Are Drug Costs So High in the United States? Medscape Roxanne Nelson 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters


Place: Second Place

The United States has the dubious honor of paying the highest costs for drugs in the world, even compared with other wealthy nations, such as Canada, Germany, and Japan. The difference in price can often be substantial, especially among the newer and very costly agents that have recently come on the market.

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"A story of overcoming" The Sacramento Bee Cynthia Halleen Craft, Senior Writer, Health 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In all of California, there is one elected state office-holder who stands head and shoulders above the rest for the reputation he’s developed as a champion for expanding and funding mental health programs. State Senate President Darrell Steinberg was the driver behind an initiative to put a 1 percent income tax on millionaires, providing billions of dollars for mental health programs. But few knew Steinberg had a daughter who, since she was a little girl, suffered from a severe childhood mental health and behavioral disorder. Jordana Steinberg was very much Daddy’s girl, but by the age of 6, she was put on medication for daily furies so intense that her mother, Julie Steinberg , recalls, “It was like daggers pierced you. It was toxic. There weren’t words to explain the depth of her power.” By 13, Jordana’s daily rages got worse and she’d been diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder. At the insistence of her mother, who recognized her daughter needed better care than the family could hope to provide, Jordana was sent away to a series of residential facilities and forensic psychiatric lock-down institutions. Jordana would never again return home to live for more than a few months. Anger and overly intense reactions ruled her life. Doctors loaded her up with so many psychotropic drugs she had trouble staying awake. She was 16 before she read a book, she said, and it took her months to finish. By that time, Jordana was living in a residential group home for teen-aged girls with severe behavioral challenges. Through all of the violence, separation, emotional hurt and physical pain, through all the scars that remained inside and out, the Steinbergs worked hard to stay close to their daughter. They understood that she was very, very sick. Over a cup of coffee one day, Darrell Steinberg lowered his head and admitted that stigma -- that stubborn nemesis of the mental health community -- exists even within his own family. Jordana’s diagnosis of severe bipolar disorder was tough for even Steinberg to accept with complete objectivity. But stigma, or rather, the battle against it, played an all-important role in the eventual airing of Jordana’s story. The gripping, intense narrative of her difficult younger years and the rough, often violent patches leading up to her high-school graduation, was told in The Sacramento Bee by Jordana and her family with the goal of helping to erase stigma. It was Jordana herself who, then in college and a full year after a journalist proposed a stigma-busting tale of her experiences, who called the journalist to say, “I’m ready to tell my story.” As she wished, her life’s path was shared with the community, and an outpouring of support followed, along with a flood of responses from parents whose anguish was eased somewhat by reading the tale of a prominent family’s journey that resembled their own. In the reporting of the story, new, encouraging information emerged: The latest official diagnostic manual for mental disorders described a childhood condition that very much fit Jordana’s behavior: The experts called it “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.” The key term here is “childhood condition.” As off-the-charts difficult as Jordana’s early years were, her adult years are bound to be less so. The childhood disorder tapers off, researchers say, and she likely will suffer symptoms of anxiety and depression – much more manageable conditions than what she grew up with.

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Radical Remissions: Cancer Patients Who Defy the Odds Medscape Roxanne Nelson, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Although it is neither typical nor common, there are thousands of cancer patients who have extended their survival way beyond the upper limits of the median or who are seemingly cured after a terminal prognosis. These individuals, sometimes called exceptional patients, have begun to attract the attention of researchers who are interested in what, if anything, they are doing to heal themselves of incurable diseases or to improve their chances of being cured.

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Cracking the Fibro Code Freelance Marianne Wait, Writer (with Andrea Kane, Medical Edtior) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that affects multiple aspects of patients’ lives. “Cracking the Fibro Code” aims to unlock the mysteries of fibromyalgia by providing readers the newest scientific insights into their condition – how and why it can be so debilitating – and discussing the best options for treatments.

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Pregnant RN Fired for Refusing Flu Vaccine: Not So Simple? Medscape from WebMD Robert Lowes, journalist 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"The decision by a pregnant registered nurse to lose her job rather than receive flu vaccination required by her employer highlights an aspect of today's "vaccine wars." Even in healthcare, there are clinicians who fear that vaccines do more harm than good. Meanwhile, an increasing number of healthcare organizations require their employees to get the flu vaccine, although their policies vary widely, which creates confusion. This story also points out the tension between the goals of public health and professional autonomy. Several organizations that represent nurses--the American Nurses Association, for one--encourage their members to get vaccinated against the flu, but oppose making it mandatory. Pregnancy puts a woman at greater risk of influenza-related complications, illustrated by the story of a pregnant woman who died of influenza after not having been vaccinated."

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Feel Better Overnight Freelance Marianne Wait, Writer (with Andrea Kane, Medical Edtior) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Sleep affects every aspect of a patient’s life and is one of the most effective drug-free remedies. However, getting enough and proper ZZZs goes well beyond simple sleep hygiene, especially when factoring in the effects of arthritis and related conditions. “Feel Better Overnight” aims to explain to readers how sleep (or lack thereof) affects them and to give them the information and resources they need to get a good night’s sleep.

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How to Run a Hospital — Without Water: A Story out of West Virginia Becker's Healthcare Ellie Rizzo, Lead Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Following the spill of a coal mining chemical into West Virginia’s water system in early 2014, West Virginians were plagued with nausea, vomiting and a peculiar smell coming from their faucets. Citing contamination, the state placed a ban on water usage for cooking, drinking and bathing. Area hospitals, however, still had to function -- without the ability to access running water. This story chronicles the process through which Thomas Health System hospitals MacGyvered their way through the nearly week-long ban on water use in their area.

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Let It Go Freelance Dorothy Foltz-Gray, Writer (with Jill Tyrer, Managing Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Toxic feelings can have a significant impact on pain for those who have chronic illnesses, like arthritis. “Let It Go” aims to explain to readers the connection between their pain and feelings of frustration, anger, despair, pressure, grief and resentment, and provide solutions to overcome these emotions.

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Medical Board Faulted for Licensing Convicted Rapist Medscape from WebMD Robert Lowes, journalist 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story looks at the case of Dr. William Dando, who was licensed to practice in Maryland even though he had been convicted of raping a woman years earlier in Florida. Maryland is one of 16 states that do not make a criminal background check a condition of licensure. Until the Dando case, the Maryland State Medical Society had opposed a mandatory criminal background check for license applicants, illustrating how physicians can thwart regulators who want to hold them accountable for their behavior.

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"Psychedelic Science: The Surge in Psychiatric Research" Southern California Public Radio Stephanie Anna O'Neill, Health Care Correspondent 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"Research into the therapeutic potential of illegal "psychedelic" drugs to treat an assortment of mental health conditions is undergoing a modern-day renaissance. A host of published studies in the field is showing promise for psychedelics, such as psilocybin — the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms" — LSD and MDMA (ecstasy) to help treat alcoholism, depression, drug addiction and severe anxiety caused by serious or terminal illness. With stage three trials now on the horizon, these new treatment modalities are gaining main stream recognition and acceptance."

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Culinary Culprits: Foods That May Harm the Brain Medscape from WebMD Nancy A. Melville, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

For all the attention paid to the negative effects poor dietary choices have on the body, the effects of diet on the brain are largely unexplored. However, emerging research is providing new insights to support the suggestion that food can have a profound influence on mental health and cognition. Recent research has linked poor diet, including diets high in junk foods, sugar or fat with cognitive deficits, depression and anxiety. Opinions collide over the validity of so-called “grain brain,” theory that processed carbohydrates, sugars, and even whole grains increase the risk for dementia by raising the glycemic index. Some of the newest research meanwhile suggests a relationship between mental health and microbiota in the gut.

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Law Enforcement Mental Health Training Not a Panacea Southern California Public Radio Stephanie Anna O'Neill, Health Care Correspondent 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

As law enforcement agencies nationwide grapple with how best to handle the mentally ill, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training is becoming more popular. But despite the adoption of such training and its many successes, problems still happen. We visit two mothers in Ventura County, both with bipolar sons who've had run-ins with the law and we see how CIT training worked and where the system nevertheless failed.

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Alemtuzumab Investigators Protest FDA Decision Medscape from WebMD Susan Hughes, Journalist 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This is a reaction piece written following the refusal of the US FDA to approval the multiple sclerosis drug Lemtrada .

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In sickness and in health: A couple's final journey Sun Sentinel Diane C. Lade, Reporter (with Carline Jean, Photographer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Reporter Diane C. Lade and photographer Carline Jean spent 9 months with an older gay couple as the eldest grappled with declining health and, finally, death.This is a very human love story that illuminates an emerging area of health policy: the issues LGBT couples face as they age, particularly with a terminal illness. The subjects of the story are two people any reader, gay or straight, could identify with. Richard, the terminally ill partner, was dying from cancer. His partner, Chris, had to juggle work and caregiving duties. Yet they also faced challenges that most heterosexual couples do not. While not a “policy piece,” the key issues that LGBT couples face are a theme running through the story.

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Myelin and axons don't form a perfect, uniform union Freelance Emily Jane Willingham, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"The old story about myelin is that it sheaths our axons pretty completely and facilitates nerve cell communication. An absence of it indicates disease, and MRI is a detection tool for this disease of demyelination, including multiple sclerosis. Except ... this new research in mice showed that even normal axons are unmyelinated for long sequences and in predictable patterns for specific neuron populations. If the bright MRI signal of "white matter lesions" truly reflected a lack of myelin, even the brains of healthy people should "light up like a checkerboard." They don't. The four outside experts contacted for this story described the study as “landmark,” “novel,” “unexpected,” “new,” “important,” “surprising,” “stunning,” and “provocative.” The researchers who were involved in the work were just as surprised and initially skeptical about their own results. This finding is important to the multiple sclerosis community because if absent myelin is common to everyone, then the signals on MRIs that indicate 'demyelination' and occur in people with MS must signal something more specific. One possibility is inflammation of the sheath, an implication that has consequences for therapies."

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Hard Fall The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Misty Rae Williams, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"After her boyfriend fell from a fourth-story balcony in January 2013, AJC health care reporter Misty Williams was thrust into the role of caregiver. Williams' Personal Journey, "Hard Fall," is the story of their long road to recovery. She lays bare in heart-wrenching detail the couple's challenges after her now-fiance, Jason Massad, broke both ankles, smashed his heel and fractured his skull, requiring emergency brain surgery and months of rehabilitation. He also fractured his C1 and C2 vertebrae — an injury that frequently results in death or paralysis. Williams details the struggles of being a caregiver -- a role more than 44 million Americans take on in any given year. Like Williams, 60 percent of them also have regular jobs, and the majority are women. Finding herself in the unique position of being a health care reporter whose personal life collides with a complex and often frustrating health care system, Williams shares her experience trying to navigate that system and the ramifications of what it means to take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one."

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Death of the device salesman? Modern Healthcare Jaimy Lee, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The story reveals how some hospitals are changing the way they work with sales representatives employed by medical device manufacturers in order to reduce the costs of the orthopedic implants they're buying while also limiting the longstanding influence sales reps have had with surgeons. For years these reps have assisted surgeons and nurses during surgery by helping with product selection or utilization. But this can mean that the reps are influencing what products are used, regardless of cost or quality. The shift reporting in the story is part of a growing trend of hospitals pressuring manufacturers to offer better pricing and take on new contracting practices for high-cost implantable devices as they seek to cut supply costs and help improve quality.

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Mike and Carol Daly CBS News Jonathan LaPook, M.D., Correspondent (with Amy Birnbaum, Producer; Heather Spinelli, Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Dr. Jon LaPook and the medical team at CBS News has followed Alzheimer’s patient Carol Daly and her primary caregiver, her husband Mike, over 6 years. This year we continued our coverage of their journey, showing her decline over time and Mike Daly’s commitment to care for her. We stress the importance of advance planning, and for caregivers to think about what the patient would have wanted before losing their cognitive abilities. In the piece we show previous interviews that highlight the stages of Alzheimer's, but show the love between the couple, and a new relationship being built because of the disease.

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Dabigatran: how the drug company withheld important analyses The BMJ Deborah Cohen, Investigations editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The investigation comprised two parts. The first showed how the manufacturers of a blockbuster anticoagulant stroke drug withheld from the regulators important analyses regarding how to use the drug as safely and effectively as possible. It found that Boehringer Ingelheim, the maker of Pradaxa, has failed to share with regulators information about the potential benefits of monitoring the drug and adjusting the dose to make sure it is working as safely and effectively as possible. The company also withheld analyses that calculated how many major bleeds dose adjustment could prevent. The second revealed how the company failed to calculate the number of major and fatal bleeds (the major harms of anticoagulation) in people who had participated in a key clinical trial accurately. The reduced number of bleeds compared to the much older anticoagulant, Coumadin, had been a key component of their marketing campaigns. It concluded that even today there are doubts whether all events have been properly accounted for.

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"Florence (and Lawrence) Nightingales in the Making" Freelance Dave Paone, Writer-Photographer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

"The feature is about nursing students at Ulster County Community College in New York. I write about what they need to do to become registered nurses. This includes prerequisites, required courses as well as required field work. I interview four students (from various walks of life) as well as the department chairperson. The goal was to educate the reader to exactly how much time, effort and money it takes to become an RN. I also explore the human element - what it takes to work around illness and death on a regular basis. The story satisfies the "strong news-you-can-use focus" requirement in that any young person with an interest in starting a nursing career, or even any middle-aged person looking to change careers, will find the concise information in the article extremely helpful in knowing what to expect. Additionally, since the story has a very positive slant, it may even inspire those who are considering such a career to go ahead and enroll in a college program."

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Cancer Societies MedPage Today Eric T. Rosenthal, Contributing Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Two of the stories involved turmoil in the upper management of the American Cancer Society, including departures of a recently hired Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer followed by the president and COO. The other exposed a large and costly advertorial, not labeled as such, in US Airways' inflight magazine placed by the Association of American Cancer Institutes.

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Oh Liver New Hampshire Public Radio (former) Todd Bookman, Reporter (with Sarah Ashworth, News Director, NHPR) 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

This three-part series follows Derek Janiak and Logan Shannon, husband and wife, as they prepare for an organ transplant procedure. For the past decade, Derek has been suffering the effects of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a rare liver disease that's slowly choking closed his bile ducts. Logan, who has a matching blood type, opts to donate a portion of her healthy liver to Derek, though the procedure carries risks for both of them.

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Students Under Pressure Freelance Amy Novotney, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Despite a pressing need, an increasing number of students are struggling with getting treatment for their mental health issues in college. The data from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health -- that more than 30 percent of students who seek services for mental health issues report that they have seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives, up from about 24 percent in 2010 -- was most significant in my opinion. Also, the story discusses how psychologists are working to address the problem of supply/demand problem on college campuses using online therapist-assisted programs. .

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The Cost of Life Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune Justine Griffin 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)


Place: Second Place

Reporter Justine Griffin's personal mission to honor a childhood friend through egg donation evolved into a narrative about her experience. She found that the topic – which targets young females – had gone largely unreported. Among her findings: 
• One of the most commonly prescribed invitro fertilization drugs, Lupron, is used off label, or not for its intended purpose. The drug was developed to treat men with prostate issues and has been used for chemical castration.
• Universities with medical school programs are home to reproductive endocrinology departments that make enough money from IVF treatments to fund entire schools within the university. Generally, fertility doctors are among the highest-paid employees at private universities.
• Meanwhile more women are experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a painful side effect when ovaries produce too many eggs. Others experienced irreversible outcomes after donating, like infertility and endometriosis. The Cost of Life blends Justine’s reporting with the anxieties and struggles she endured while living this story. 

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After the Spill Freelance Kirsten Weir, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This article reports on the efforts of a consortium of university researchers studying the ongoing mental-health impacts of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform. In particular, researchers found significantly elevated rates of anxiety and depression in populations affected directly and indirectly by the spill, and those rates persisted for at least 2 years after the event. While loss of income was the biggest driver of mental health problems, the researchers found, they also discovered that higher levels of bitterness, anger, and distrust were associated with mental health problems. The findings suggest possible areas for intervention to assist people in communities affected by natural and man-made disasters.

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Getting Cancer Wrong Newsweek Alexander Nazaryan, Senior Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

"This story explores a new approach to treating cancer, whose proponents have come to "uneasy conclusion that cancer is smarter than we are, and will find ways to evade our finest medical weaponry." Instead of trying kill cancer with the blunt tools of radiation and chemo, oncologists like Robert Gatenby are suggesting that we should be making mathematical models of each individual instance of cancer, and use those models to carefully arrest cancer's progress."

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The Lasting Impact of Neglect Freelance Kirsten Weir, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This article reports on research that explores how early childhood neglect harms children, and how best to help those who have suffered from such neglect. The article focuses on the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a research study that has followed neglected, institutionalized Romanian children for more than 14 years, and also discusses related studies that have examined the impact of neglect on American children, as well as children adopted to America from institutions overseas. The researchers have learned that early childhood neglect significantly affects brain growth, resulting in a host of psychological and cognitive problems that can persist indefinitely. Some of those problems appear to be partly reversible, however, particularly when a child is removed from the neglectful situation before age two. As scientists learn more about the physiological systems affected by early neglect, they are beginning to target interventions to help the children affected by their rough start in life.

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Alzheimer's Is Expensive, Deadly and Growing. So Where's the Research Money? Newsweek Abigail Jones, Senior Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Alzheimer's is already one of the costliest chronic diseases to the country—$214 billion in 2014 alone. And it's only become worse, as Alzheimer's and other dementias are becoming more and more prevalent among the aging U.S. population. Meanwhile, research into treating the disease has been dramatically underfunded historically, and we have no — zero — effective disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer's. Despite some recent investments, funding remains a fraction of the $2 billion that the NAPA Advisory Council recommended. It's one of the the most devastating diseases we face, and no one wants to talk about it.

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Ebola's Lost Ward Nature Erika Check Hayden 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters


Place: First Place

When the worst Ebola outbreak in history hit Sierra Leone last year, most foreigners who could leave, did leave. But one international team of doctors and scientists stayed, fighting to conduct potentially lifesaving research on the disease – even as the virus claimed the lives of doctors, nurses and others on the team. "Ebola's lost ward" was the first feature to tell the story of this medical team and its increasingly personal struggle against the deadly virus. The piece highlights the great courage and humanity of health care workers under the worst of conditions, and illuminates the devastating toll of the outbreak on health care and the medical research that could help prevent future epidemics. An accompanying video tells the story of loss and courage through the lens of doctor and geneticist Pardis Sabeti, and the song she wrote in memory of her fallen colleagues.

Judges' comments: This moving, well-structured article calls attention to the sacrifices made by medical professionals on the front lines of the fight against infectious diseases. Also, the video demonstrated good use of multiple media techniques to tell a story.

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Drugs treat anxiety--but worries aren't over. Bend Bulletin Markian Hawryluk, reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Despite well-established risks of dependence, physicians continue to prescribe the class of drugs called benzodiazepines for long term use, leaving many patients struggling to regain normal function for years.

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Savior or Sinner: Prem Reddy's Turnaround Strategy Modern Healthcare Beth Erin Kutscher, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story was a profile of a controversial healthcare CEO, Dr. Prem Reddy, and the company he founded, Prime Healthcare Services. Prime is a paradox. On the one hand, it has the noble mission of buying up hospitals that are in so much financial distress that their only other option is closure. Under its leadership, they win quality awards and clean up their balance sheets. But the company's tactics for turning around these struggling facilities have drawn the ire of unions, insurers, competitors, politicians and even the Department of Justice. Much has written about these controversies, but what sparked this story was a more basic question: what is Dr. Reddy's secret sauce? Why do his hospitals keep winning awards? Why does he see diamonds in the rough where no one else does? Although this story was a profile of Prime, it also became a story about the challenges of distressed hospitals, the power of insurance companies and the loopholes in billing and coding.

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Understanding the Ebola epidemic San Angelo Standard-Times Denise Kaye Morris, writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Ebola had just become a household word and was beginning to invoke fear in people in the U.S. so this story presented a primer of the disease for our readers. This story was compiled and published in the week after Dr. Kent Brantly was diagnosed with the deadly virus.

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Even Surgeons's Get Starstruck Plastic Surgery Practice Denise Lynn Mann, editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

VIP syndrome occurs when a famous person is given special or different treatment because they are famous. Many top cosmetic doctors do offer VIP exits and special waiting areas for clients who don’t want to be seen because that may create a scene. Such amenities are usually considered a major perk for certain patients. Some of these exits and waiting area are separate but equal. Others are merely separate, but these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to VIP syndrome in plastic surgery. Inspired by the death of comedienne Joan Rivers. this feature looks at the dangers of VIP syndrome.

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Young cancer patient beats odds KTAL-TV Stefanie Bryant Bryant, TV Anchor/Medical Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Melody Scott was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 25. We hear how she listened to her will and a higher power to get the diagnosis and help her get the treatment she needed.

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All of a sudden, there was fire Modern Healthcare Sabriya Rice, Staff Reporter (with Joe Carlson, Staff Reporter) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Virtually all surgical fires are preventable, yet every year about 240 patients are set on fire in operating rooms across the country. Fear of litigation or bad publicity leaves incidents underreported in many instances. Adoption of precautionary measures has been slow, often implemented only after a hospital experiences an accident. Advocates say it’s not clear how many hospitals have instituted available protocols, and no national safety authority tracks the frequency, which is thought to injure patients in one of every three incidents.

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Unknown Significance Science Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Staff Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

The story chronicles my experience with genetic testing for cancer risk as testing in this arena is changing rapidly--with more uncertainty, more options, and more knowledge available to patients.

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Surgical-robot costs put small hospitals in a bind Modern Healthcare Jaimy Lee, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The story looks at a downstream trend of rural and community hospitals buying robotic surgery systems and the impact of a high-cost medical technology being used in a facility with lower patient volumes at a time when the manufacturers sales were beginning to flag.

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Treating Advanced Skin Cancer Freelance Eleanor Mayfield, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. When detected early, skin cancers - including melanoma, the most serious form - are highly curable with surgery. For advanced skin cancers, however, treatment options have been limited. This article is about the first generation of “targeted therapies” for advanced skin cancers and skin lymphoma. It includes patient stories, resources, and information to help consumers understand the role of tanning and tanning salons in causing skin cancer and the role of sunscreens in skin cancer prevention.

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A Changing Job Market for Fellows Requires New Perspective, Resources From Trainers TCTMD Yael Leah Maxwell, Associate News Editor 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"This story examined one of the biggest challenges faced by current interventional cardiology fellows—finding a job. In a field rapidly shifting from "new and exciting" experimental developments to more routine and accepted procedures, trainees must decide what is most important to them in terms of job location, salary, procedure volume, subspecialties, and practice type. Unfortunately, there are few resources out there to help them plan their careers, even after decades of schooling and training. Yet representatives from the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) are looking to change that with their FIT Portal and other programming. Individual program directors are also increasingly being called upon now to take active roles in networking for their fellows and exposing them to all available professional options."

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Anthem's New Partnership with Seven Hospitals Builds on An Old Idea in California California Healthline George Lauer, Features editor 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Story examined roots and questioned breathless promotion of partnership as a new business model.

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Healthcare: The Next Generation MGMA David N. Gans, Senior Fellow, Industry Affairs 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Pointing to the national shortage of primary care physicians at a time of overwhelming need, David N. Gans explores the exciting -- and somewhat disrupting -- applications of technology in futuristic medical groups. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Gans is in a unique position to give a wide-reaching perspective on the ways that healthcare technology will continue to influence healthcare using Star Trek as a surprising -- yet apropos -- backdrop. One example of how health information technology has moved from science fiction to reality is a handheld diagnostic tool that scans the human body and reports diseases. It won a $10 million XPRIZE in 2011. The company XPRIZE, Culver City, Calif., rewards innovation.

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Dealing with the Devil/The Road to Recovery Freelance Claudia S. Copeland, PhD, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

A two-part series on the history of heroin, the science behind addiction, and the difficult path to recovery.

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Investing in Caregiver Support Staff Yields Results Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Heather Grimshaw, Senior Editorial Manager 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"At a time when many healthcare providers are being rewarded for patient outcomes (value) vs. transactions (volume), a growing number of professionals are starting to recognize the effect that staff health has on patient outcomes. As a result, some are trying to improve work environments, which are known to be high stress places, to encourage staff members to take breaks, eat lunch and look for ways to reduce stress. These investments in staff health have had a positive effect on patient outcomes in several settings highlighted in this article. As a result, the concept of investing in staff health at healthcare facilities is gaining momentum across the country as executives see savings in their company healthcare costs and the positive effect this investment has on patient outcomes, which influences reimbursement. While wellness programs are popular in many companies, medical organizations have been slow to recognize the value of quality of life investments for the caregivers they employ. This piece illustrates the ways practices can profit by taking care of staff -- and taking steps to ensure caregivers manage the stress that leads to unhealthy lifestyles. As one source notes: "There is a huge discrepancy between nursing theory and practice. You can tell people until you're blue in the face to lose weight, eat healthfully, exercise, stop smoking. But until you get to the root of why they're doing it, you can't make a difference." The results of one program had a positive effect on nurses -- "from the inside out. ... It definitely changed these people -- from how they felt about errors to the way they addressed patients and the environment as a whole. It actually made a difference."

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Stewardship Science News Nathan Paul Seppa, reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Modern science is slowly losing the battle against resistant bacteria. Roughly 23,000 people in the United States die annually because they have a bacterial infection that is no longer cured by antibiotics. Since it seems unlikely that new drugs will reverse this trend, many hospitals and clinics are taking a low-tech approach by changing the way doctors prescribe drugs. Antimicrobial stewardship, as it is known, uses better diagnostics, focused antibiotics and evidence-based prescribing as guideposts for physicians. It’s working.

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Population Health Management Efforts Lead to Better Outcomes, Lower Costs Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Heather Grimshaw, Sr. Editorial Manager 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The article presents concrete results related to how MGMA members are using population health management tools to improve patient health. Population health management (PHM) is defined as using clinical, social and personal patient information to manage the health outcomes of a group of patients. * Using PHM, one practice cut the number of its diabetic patients with high glucose (A1C) in half after six months. * One Cleveland Clinic site used PHM to improve patient communication and processes across three sites. It has since been expanded to all provider practices at the Cleveland Clinic. * WindRose Health Network, Trafalgar, Ind., which has a large low-income patient population, used PHM to create incentives that increased the number of patients seeking preventive care.

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An Impossible Choice inewsource Joanne Faryon, Brad Racino and Lorie Hearn 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)


Place: First Place

inewsource discovered and exposed a world – little known even within the medical field – where more than 4,000 people are kept alive on machines. Reporter Joanne Faryon and videographer Brad Racino revealed this network of “vent farms” to the nation through documents, data and unprecedented access to a facility in San Diego County that is home to people spending years, sometimes more than a decade, on life support. Most are not conscious and haven’t tasted food in years. They are dependent on others to brush their teeth, comb their hair and change their diapers. More than 120 such places in California exist. They are the end of the line, the place people go once medicine has saved them, but where there is little hope for recovery. This inewsource investigation, called “An Impossible Choice,” posed the point-blank question faced by an increasing number of people across the country: When is a life no longer worth living?

Judges' comments: This never-before-seen view into the daily operations of California’s “vent farms” — special nursing home units where patients are kept on life suppor t— examines their cost to taxpayers, patients and families. Most of the people who live in the facilities, Joanne Faryon writes, “will spend the rest of their lives in bed, their bodies twisted from muscle contractures, tubes permanently inserted in their throats and stomachs, completely dependent on others to brush their teeth, comb their hair…. And there is the grief — heartless and relentless — of the loved ones left behind.”

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No harm, no foul Freelance Jane Langille, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This is a feature story exploring the benefits of high-fidelity simulation in education for medical lab technologists. The story opens with a recap of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, where all 140 victims treated in hospitals survived because mass casualty simulations had been practiced years beforehand. Next, I explore the benefits of new technology at the undergraduate level of education at the only institution in Canada devoted exclusively to applied health sciences. Rather than covering simulation in big hospitals to address simulation on the job as the next section, I profiled a unique mobile simulation program in the remote area of Northern Alberta, where they have created their own mass hemorrhage protocol scenario and run it at 44 different sites using fake blood.

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The New Way of Aging in the Old Dominion Freelance Sarah Alison Markel, writer (with Erick Gibson, Photographer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

The U.S. is experiencing a demographic shift toward an older population. This is especially true in Northern Virginia which is home to some of the healthiest and oldest people in the nation. This piece explores how area residents are caring for their older loved ones and increasingly seeking out federal, state and local long-term supports and services to enable seniors to remain in the communities of their choice for as long as possible.

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Lighting a Fire Under Tobacco-related Cancers Freelance Stephen Ornes, Contributing writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

As researchers unravel the extent and scientific underpinnings of tobacco-related cancers and addiction, patients can seek support to quit tobacco or cope with the stigma often associated with these cancers. The stigma has a cost: While the National Cancer Institute spent about $14,000 per breast cancer death in 2013, lung cancer garnered only $1,800 per death. That translates into less research into lung cancer's causes and treatments.

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Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later: Dementia and the Cost of Health Care Freelance Clarke Cochran, PhD, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Understanding the economic challenges of dementia care means dealing with the complex interplay of direct and indirect costs. Current treatment regiments are very fragmented and much responsibility falls to the patient and family, who may not be able to navigate finances, insurance and options to build a coherent system of care. The author provides current and projected costs for individuals, families, insurers, providers, and tax payers to argue that Alzheimer's and other dementias should be revisited in light of new models of care for chronically ill people

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Unleashing the Immune System Freelance Alexandra Goho, Contributing writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Immunotherapy is an exciting new area of cancer research and treatment that is having a dramatic impact on survival of some cancer patients, including those with advanced metastatic cancer. The challenge is to broaden its effects to more cancer types and more patients. This article reviews the latest advances in immunotherapy by interviewing its leading researchers and telling the stories of patients who have had dramatic results.

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Pediatric applications of medicinal cannabis KRCB-FM Danielle Venton, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

This two-part story found that some children with rare medical conditions are benefiting from the carefully managed use of medical marijuana that is high in cannabidiol (and lower in the high-inducing THC), but those strains are harder to find. Also, some research to specify and quantify the benefits of that compound is starting to be done, in spite of long-standing federal drug policy that has blocked studies of the efficacy of cannabis for medicinal applications.

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Prostate Cancer, Redefined Freelance Jocelyn Selim, Contributing writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The recent determination that not every prostate cancer is life-threatening is tranforming the treatment landscape. The challenge for oncologists is determining which cancers need immediate treatment and which can be closely watched without treatment. Improved prostate biopsies are one step. More effective therapies for those who need treatment are helping to improve survival from this disease.

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AS HEALTHCARE ENROLLMENT DEADLINE LOOMS, WEST TEXANS DEBATE OBAMACARE Freelance Lana Straub, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

The story speaks with representatives from different sides of the healthcare system and discusses the pros and cons about why Texans are reluctant to participate in the new healthcare system. The article discusses the medicaid gap and the push-back from small business owners in Texas. It also discusses the chilling effect that the law has had to Latinos in Texas who fear immigration reprisals for giving their information on healthcare.gov.

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Campaign for your health and win no matter who gets elected Columbus African American News Journal Lisa D. Benton, MD, MPH, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Article discusses what is news regarding the ACA and how that matters for one Ohio resident.

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Sasha's Heart Student Rebecca Dell, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

As one young man's heart gradually failed, college swimmer Sasha Menu Courey fought borderline personality disorder and the aftershocks of rape. Their stories merged when Sasha died by suicide and that young man, Pat Healy, received her heart. Now, more than three years later, her family finds some comfort knowing that her death at least allowed Pat to live.

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Genetics first: A fresh take on autism's diversity SFARI.org, freelance Sarah DeWeerdt, reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Each child with autism is different from the next. One approach rapidly gaining momentum makes sense of this diversity by grouping children together based on their genetics, and then looking for patterns in their symptoms. This story explored the potential of the ‘genetics-first’ approach, featuring both scientists and the families of the children involved.

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The Myth of the Down Low and HIV HIV Plus Sunnivie Brydum, Contributing Editor 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Bisexual men have long been saddled with a 'down low' mythology and an enduring stigma that makes women fear them as a source of HIV infection. Turns out, new research shows this fear may be based on false assumptions.

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Suicidal thoughts alarmingly common in people with autism SFARI.org, freelance Sarah DeWeerdt, reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Several large studies of adolescents and adults with autism reveal that bleak moods and suicidal despair are extremely common, particularly among those on the milder end of the autism spectrum. But recognizing and treating this suicidality is difficult because people with autism don’t talk about their emotions in typical ways.

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How do We Stop the HIV Epidemic in the South? HIV Plus Jacob Anderson-Minshall, Contributing Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

HIV is an epidemic ravaging southern states on our own shores, so why do so many ignore the virus's potency? Jacob Anderson-Minshall examines the disproportionate number of Americans dying of HIV-related conditions are African-American, and the discrimination, stigma, and under-education around HIV in the region.

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Vaccination Noncompliance: Are Your Patients at Risk? MGMA staff Laura Palmer, Director of Professional Development, MGMA 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Vaccine compliance continues to be a challenging issue for medical group practice managers. This article explores the issue and highlights solutions that several members have pursued. It explores the pros and the cons of member examples, including terminating patients who refuse to have their children vaccinated and how providers can educate patients (and parents) while continuing to protect the safety of other patients in their practices. This piece takes a hard look at the practical realities MGMA members face when parents refuse to follow physicians' orders for vaccination and what types of resources are available for providers, who struggle with next steps. The article poses the question: Up until now, we haven’t seen an epidemic of these preventable diseases large enough to create hysteria. But if the health of our citizens is put at risk when immunization rates become reduced, that might soon change. Are you ready?

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"Warning for Women" Don't ignore benefit of mammogram due to questionable study" The Lawton Constitution, Lawton Media Inc. KW Hillis, staff reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

"A study stating that mammograms were not any more effective than self-examinations in reducing breast cancer was released Feb. 11, By Feb. 18, Dr. Nadim Nimeh at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, OK, received feedback that women were cancelling their life-saving mammograms based on what was termed a "flawed" study. The findings from interviews and documented data and other studies pointed out four major flaws in the referenced study, three with the equipment used and one with the control group which was not properly controlled. The news-you-can-use article focused on facts about the current documented state of mammograms and the need for both mammograms and self-exams to save lives."

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Spotting Cancer in a Vial of Blood MIT Technology Review Antonio Regalado, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

A renowned cancer scientist. His dying brother. A new type of DNA test with profound public health implications. Technology Review brought these elements together in an exclusive narrative about the “liquid biopsy,” an emerging technology that is able to detect nearly any type of cancer, often long before symptoms arise, by searching for tumor DNA in a blood test. The story dramatized how this powerful new type of test could offer a different way to defeat cancer, but also explored why despite its public health promise, the technology could be difficult, perhaps impossible, to put into medical practice.

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Opening up: The Evolving World of Surgery Stanford Medicine Magazine Ruthann Richter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)


Place: Third Place

The story follows the path of a senior resident in surgery at Stanford, using her story to illustrate the dramatic changes in recent years in the practice of surgery and in the lives of surgeons. These trainees are on the cusp of a new era in the field and have feet both in the world of big, open-hole procedures done amidst an operating room culture dominated by men and today’s minimalist approach to surgery and its more collaborative and inclusive environment. The story also touches on changes in surgical training that have caused much controversy and how the OR doors have gradually opened to women. Throughout the discussion, the story traces the unusual career path of the surgical resident and takes us into the OR as she does her surgical "dance" with a seasoned trauma surgeon.

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The DCIS Dilemma Freelance Charlotte Huff, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"One in every four breast cancer diagnoses today is technically not cancer. While a risky condition, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) can lurk inside the milk ducts of the breast, perhaps indefinitely, without morphing into cancer. A few decades ago, it was virtually never diagnosed, but that picture has changed dramatically with more sensitive imaging tests. Thus, patients and their doctors are now caught in the cross fires of uncertainty. Many of these pre-cancers likely don't need treatment, but who falls into that group? And how can patients, faced with a diagnosis that contains "carcinoma" in the name possibly make that decision?"

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What's Really Behind the High HIV Rates for Black Gay Men? HIV Plus Lucas Grindley, Editorial Director 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Conventional wisdom says gay and bisexual black men have high rates of HIV, but there has been very little explanation as to why. Studies find that black gay men aren’t any more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than their white peers. So simply ignoring condoms doesn’t explain it. The same goes for other risk factors. Grindley consulted experts and documents to understand where this perception comes from, and why the rates among this group are so high.

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Disease Awareness Ads Thrive In Regulatory No-Man's Land "The Pink Sheet" and "The Pink Sheet" DAILY" Sarah Karlin, Seniro Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Disease-awareness advertisements may be slipping through the regulatory cracks at the expense of patients and to the advantage of the pharmaceutical industry. Despite FDA's focus on drug labeling to help protect patients from drugs that may not be safe and effective for them by controlling what drug companies can say in advertisements, disease awareness ads that don't mention a drug name are not as tightly regulated. Recent FDA actions on testosterone products revealed the power of these advertisements and the consequences of the government's hands off regulatory approach. I set out to explore what, if any, government agency has the authority to regulate disease-awareness ads and how the regulation, or lack thereof could have led to the unintended consequence of the prescribing of drugs for patients for whom the FDA did not intend their use. I found that while FDA pushed off much of the responsibility for disease-awareness ad regulation at an advisory committee meeting, agency documents indicate it has more regulatory authority than it let on. I also found that while FTC does have some jurisdiction over the topic, it was unlikely to investigate such communication unless prompted by direct complaints; yet FDA refused to tell me whether it had passed any complaints or its concerns over to FTC.

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Providence Hospice Cares for The Whole Family Freelance Nicholas "Nick" Holden Gilbert, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

The story better informs patients and families suffering with terminal or chronic illness about the availability of inpatient hospice and the difference between palliative and hospice care.

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The Science of Fat freelance Sonya Collins, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

"The article explores the biological mechanisms that work against us when we try to lose weight. A leader in the field of "obesity reversal" research, Timothy Bartness says that when we start to lose weight, our entire physiology works against us. The story describes the brain's and nervous system's role in keeping the body fat; the messages the brain sends the body to make it hold onto fat; and whether treatment for obesity might one day include shutting off those messages - or sending a different message - in order to facilitate weight loss. The article is unique because most research and media coverage on obesity focus on obesity prevention and obesity consequences. This story, however, focuses on the potential for obesity reversal. It is one thing to prevent obesity, Bartness says, but what about all the people who are already obese? What do we do for them? Diet and exercise - which seem to be the sole focus of most coverage of obesity intervention, along with gastric bypass - are simply not enough, he says. This story explores whether it may one day be possible to manipulate the very biological mechanisms that allow us to get fat and stay fat."

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A Fact of Life: Retired physician, Death With Dignity advocate ponders his own death Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.) Saerom Yoo, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

Dr. Peter Rasmussen for 30 years dedicated his career to dying patients, as a physician, advocate and community volunteer. He is most recognized for his fight for Oregon's Death With Dignity (physician aid-in-dying) law, eventually ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court as the only physician willing to fight for end-of-life patients' final choice. Today, he is pondering is own death after being diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, a brain tumor.

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Match Madness The University of Georgia Katie Ball, Producer, Writer, Host (with Alicia Smith, April Bailey) 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Match Madness is a half-hour documentary that follows the lives of three University of Georgia medical students in the time leading up to their residency match day. The story gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of these future doctors.

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"Building Better Barriers" Freelance Rita Rubin, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (small)

AIDS advocacy organizations and public health departments in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere distribute free female condoms to men who have sex with men because they figure a female condom is better than know condom. The problem is that little research has been conducted as to whether that's true. Yet, many men who have sex with men prefer to use the female condom, even though they modify it for comfort. Clearly, the male condom leaves a lot to be desired, and even the Gates Foundation recognizes the need for a better one.

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Recent Suicides Highlight Need to Address Depression in Medical Students and Residents Freelance Rita Rubin, Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story examined the problem of depression and suicide in medical trainees and steps medical schools are taking to lift the stigma and ensure that students and residents who need help are able to get it.

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Breast Cancer's Racial Divide The PBS NewsHour Merrill SCHWERIN Schwerin, Producer (with Gwen Ifill, Anchor; Linda Winslow, Executive Producer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

Breast Cancer & Racial Divide Twenty years ago, breast cancer survival rates for white and black women were about the same. But as improvements in screening and treatment came into use, the gap has widened. Now, more white women are diagnosed with breast cancer, but black women are more likely to die of the disease. And, of those that do die, black women will die three years sooner than their white counterparts. Memphis has the worst outcomes in the country for African-American women with breast cancer. Black women with the disease in Memphis are more than twice as likely to die than white women. Nationally, African-American women with breast cancer are 40 percent more likely to die than white women. The biggest problem health officials say is that black women in Memphis do not seek health care for screening or at the earliest signs of breast cancer develop. Now, city hospitals, health advocates, and policy makers have launched a campaign and formed the Congregational Health Network. The Network has signed on 500 congregations. Through ambassadors, like Carole Dickenson, education about prevention and screening make their way to African American churches throughout Memphis. This is a story about how health officials in one city wanted to make a difference in complicated and tragic health outcomes that confound the nation.

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Response to Ebola Crisis Will Require Attention to MH Needs Psychiatric News Aaron Levin, Senior Staff Writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

As the Ebola epidemic in Africa rolls on, survivors, families, children, and health workers are dealing with the stress and psychological trauma left behind by the disease.

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Dying Undocumented: Depending on Benadryl No Way to Live New America Media Viji Sundaram, Reporter (with Tudor Stanley, Freelance videographer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

If you are living undocumented in the U.S., and have no access to health care, a manageable disease like diabetes can quickly incapacitate you. Twenty-five-year-old Beatrice Sanchez watched the disease take over her mother, who was too afraid to emerge from the shadows and seek health care because she feared she and her family would be deported. Her mother's death at age 55 has left an indelible mark on the young woman and made her an ardent immigrant rights activist.

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The Ratings Maze Modern Healthcare Magazine Sabriya Rice, Staff Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Government agencies, news organizations, healthcare accreditation and quality groups are among the many that have started publishing hospital performance measures and report cards in recent years, growing out of the movement for improved quality and patient satisfaction, lower costs, and greater accountability and transparency. The emergence of these reviews has put pressure on hospital leaders to do what’s necessary to improve their scores. But the various reports use significantly different methodologies and have different areas of focus, often producing sharply different ratings for the same hospitals during the same time period. Some hospital leaders say this makes it more difficult to know which areas to prioritize to improve their quality of care and rankings. And it can be confusing for patient to get a sense of the true quality of the organization.

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Texas Matters: Problems Facing Texas State-Supported Living Centers Texas Public Radio David Martin Davies, Reporter/Host/Producer/Writer/Editor 2014 Health Policy (large)

"Texas operates 13 state supported living centers, large institutional homes, for the severely intellectually disabled. This is more than any other state. But these SSLC's are troubled institutions. The Department of Justice found that these centers were so poorly run that the state was violating the civil rights of the residents. The DOJ found that the residents were routinely abused, neglected and exploited. The radio report, "Texas Matters: Problems Facing State Supported Living Centers" examines the failed efforts by the state of Texas to meet the basic standards set by the DOJ and established in an out of court settlement with the state. The Texas Matters report also tells the story of Sean Yates, who died while under the care of the Corpus Christi SSLC and who apparently was a victim of a "Fight Club" at the center. Employees at the center created the Fight Club for their amusement by forcing the severely autistic residents to attack and pummel each other. The Yates family was never informed of the Fight Club and Sean's possible involvement. Texas has announced plans to shut down some of the SSLC's but there are still many questions like will the residents receive improved treatment and medical care. It's also unclear what will happen with the DOJ's inspections now the the five-year-settlement has expired. The conditions at the SSLCs remain substandard and Texans need to be made aware of these ongoing scandals."

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Rethinking charity care Modern Healthcare Melanie Anne Evans, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The nation's not-for-profit hospitals receive tax breaks in exchange for providing a community benefit, which has been a focus of public debate and legislation. Hospitals are not required to provide free or discounted care to low-income patients to meet their tax obligation, but patient advocates, states attorneys general and lawmakers have scrutinized financial aid policies as a measure of hospitals' benefit to local communities. The introduction of new subsidies for health insurance and a mandate for coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act raised the question: Would hospitals alter financial aid policies now that patients had a new source of federal aid? The answer could mean a significant shift in the role that private not-for-profits have played in the nation's safety net. Interviews with hospital executives found a debate underway and some hospitals have changed their policies. I returned to the story again in December 2014 and found more examples of not-for-profit health systems that had altered financial aid policies to exclude those low-income patients who do not take advantage of ACA subsidies.

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Breakdown: Mental Health in Colorado The Denver Post Jennifer L Brown, reporter (with Craig F. Walker, Photographer; Mahala Gaylord, Videographer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

The Denver Post set out to examine the state of the mental health system in Colorado over the course of several months. We found it is broken, that so many families are struggling to find help and that Colorado is spending millions more to treat mental health at crisis stage than it is to prevent catastrophe. The project is organized in four main parts: the mental health care system, mental illness and criminal justice, mental illness and homelessness, and mental illness in children. The result is a comprehensive look at mental illness at its basic level, not the typical politically charged debate about mass shootings and gun control. It's an eye-opening series that connected with people through the raw, emotional stories of those who are living through it.

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How to Prevent Medical Diagnostic Errors freelance Jill U Adams, writer 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

How misdiagnosis impacts otolaryngology practice and what health-care providers can do to prevent it. Physicians are turning to a number of innovative strategies to fix the complex web of errors, biases and oversights that stymie the quest for the right diagnosis.

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One Way Ticket to Nowhere: America's Mental Health Crisis Dan Rather Presents, AXS.tv Chandra Simon, Producer/Director/Writer (with Wayne Nelson, Executive Producer; Dan Rather, Correspondent) 2014 Health Policy (large)

ONE WAY TICKET TO NOWHERE: AMERICA’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS, is an in-depth report detailing how the nation currently deals with the mentally ill, who—by some estimates—make up as much as 25 percent of the U.S. population. The riveting report, hosted by Dan Rather, addresses how severe this problem has become for the nation’s hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and individual states. One state in particular, Nevada, has drawn heavy criticism for its mishandling of the mentally ill. For the special, Rather visits Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas to interview Nevada’s Director of Health & Human Services, and speak exclusively with former employees. Rather also talks to patients who have come forward for the first time to share their experiences at Rawson-Neal. The hard-hitting special also takes a look at the number of mentally ill who are killed each year by law enforcement officers, and new training procedures being put into place to better educate police on handling people with mental illness.

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Growing Community-Based Doctors Modern Healthcare Andis Robeznieks, reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

A recent Institute of Medicine report recommended that less physician training be done inside hospitals and told why more needs to be done in community-based settings. Some healthcare organizations are already doing just that--but they face substantial challenges in sustaining their programs because of arcane funding rules that appear to protect the status quo.

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KU Docs Say Proposed Cure For Transplant Waits Would Make Local Patients Sicker KCUR 89.3 FM Alex Smith, health reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization that coordinates the allocation of donated organs in the United States, has been considering a change in the way livers are distributed to reduce disparities in liver waiting lists in different parts of the country. On both coasts, transplant patients often wait significantly longer for livers than patients in the Midwest and South. As a result, they typically get much sicker before receiving a transplant. Transplant doctors in the Midwest say they're concerned that Midwestern patients would suffer unfairly under UNOS' proposal. Doctors at The University of Kansas Hospital are especially opposed to the plan, which they say would simply change where patients die rather than improve overall health outcomes.

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How healthcare's Washington lobbying machine gets the job done Modern Healthcare Paul Demko Demko, Washington Bureau Chief 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Healthcare interests spent nearly $500 million last year to influence policy decisions in Washington. This story documented the healthcare lobbying universe that allows hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers and other entities to get their voices heard inside the beltway. In particular, it documented how Gilead Sciences dramatically increased its lobbying activities when the pharmaceutical firm needed to get its blockbuster hepatitis C drug Sovaldi through regulatory hurdles and onto the market. Those efforts were rewarded when Sovaldi racked up $6 billion in sales during the first six months of 2014, making it the most successful drug launch in U.S. pharmaceutical industry history and a poster child for out-of-control pricing on specialty drugs.

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On front line of legalization, pot has become big business The Buffalo News Scott Scanlon, Staff reporter (with Stephen T. Watson, Business reporter) 2014 Health Policy (large)

The mainbar article and the sidebar articles explore the commercial, financial, law-enforcement, health and political effects of the introduction of legal medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado. We told the story in the context of New York state’s debate over the legalization of medical marijuana. We found that fears about the effects on crime and public health were overblown, but predictions of an economic boom also were overstated. Critics say the law was put in place with too little oversight, and medical marijuana (which is cheaper and easily abused) remains popular even with legal recreational marijuana. However, a pot industry is growing in Colorado. In the sidebar stories, we reported: New York’s medical marijuana law is very restrictive; research on the medical effects of marijuana remains scarce; and native Buffalonians who live in Colorado are supportive of legalizing marijuana even if they don’t use it themselves.

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Power Morcellation: A Hazardous Practice The Cancer Letter Matthew Bin Han Ong, Reporter 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The Cancer Letter’s coverage of the controversy over a commonly used gynecological procedure focused on three themes: 1) The devastation power morcellation caused to real people. Ong followed two Boston couples whose lives were turned upside down after being harmed by the surgery, performed at one of the world’s best medical centers: Brigham & Women’s Hospital. One of the two women died of metastatic uterine cancer, the other miraculously survived. 2) The flaws in the FDA device clearance process that allowed morcellators to become a mainstay of American medicine, particularly in OBGYN. 3) Brigham’s effort to save the procedure by initiating an ethically questionable study that combined the offending device with a “containment bag.” The clinical study was enrolling women even though it was not properly cleared by FDA. Aggressive investigative coverage in The Cancer Letter left Brigham no choice but to stop the study. The series utilized various tools and media to provide comprehensive reporting on power morcellation— statistical analyses, photography, and an interview documentary. The Cancer Letter provided the most detailed and thorough information on the issue, setting the standard for other publications to follow. Power morcellation was, in early 2014, a routine procedure used to remove uterine tissue through small incision sites. The morcellator consists of a hollow cylinder with powered blades that breaks tissue into fragments. The procedure was performed in an estimated 100,000 women annually in the U.S. The gynecology community had known that the morcellator, which has been in use for fibroid removal and hysterectomies for nearly 20 years, could increase the risk of spreading undetected cancer. However, gynecologists had assumed that uterine sarcomas were extremely rare, and that the benefits outweighed the risks for the vast majority of women with fibroids, which are largely benign tumors. That assumption was fundamentally challenged by Hooman Noorchashm and Amy Reed, two physicians who were at the time employed at Harvard-affiliated institutions. Reed underwent power morcellation at Brigham & Women’s Hospital on Oct. 17, 2013. Within a few weeks, her previously undetected leiomyosarcoma had metastasized in her abdominal cavity. Reed and Noorchashm, her husband, put two and two together and confronted Brigham. The couple discovered they were never informed that power morcellation was the surgery of choice, and that they were never warned of the risk of upstaging cancer. They also discovered that some physicians at Brigham had known of a risk ratio approximate to FDA’s estimate, not long before Reed’s surgery. Angered by the responses they drew from Brigham, Noorchashm and Reed waged an international campaign against power morcellation, and put the issue on FDA’s to-do list in a matter of months. While Reed was recuperating from her treatments, another patient, Erica Kaitz, was dying. Kaitz had undergone the same procedure shortly before Reed at Brigham. Her husband, Richard Kaitz, a Boston attorney and a prolific donor to Harvard, was desperately looking for ways to save her. Ong delved into the personal narratives of the two couples, examined the FDA 510(k) clearance process, and analyzed scientific evidence as well as FDA action on the issue. The Cancer Letter provided in-depth coverage of each key event in the timeline of the controversy—from the genesis of the story, to the end of widespread use of the device.

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Here's why healthcare should be talking about net neutrality Modern Healthcare Darius Tahir, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

Healthcare hasn't been discussing the net neutrality issue, but with the sector becoming increasingly tech-oriented, it needs to care. And big players -- such as CTIA, the wireless association, -- have been trying to get healthcare onboard.

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Road to Reform California Healthline Dan Diamond, Columnist 2014 Trade Publications/Newsletters

For my beat, I filed more than two dozen columns in 2014 that tracked ACA implementation, health reform proposals, study findings, and other relevant news to health policy leaders. Many of those stories took national-level news and made it real for Californians. For instance, I looked at whether a new Harvard study on the benefits of health insurance meant that California had saved thousands of lives by expanding Medicaid, or why two small health plans were bucking the trend and succeeding on the Covered California exchange. I debunked common myths about the ACA, and answered readers' questions about narrow networks. But I also did influential national-level analysis — figuring out that many of the new health plans joining the ACA exchanges in the second year were run by hospitals, or that the health law's payment pilots were largely sputtering, or that many states were running a major risk by not proactively preparing to set up an insurance exchange. These conclusions often intellectually scooped other publications, and my work was cited in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and elsewhere — big achievements for our small publication.

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Missouri Veto Lays Bare Growing Debate Over Electronic Cigarettes KCUR 89.3 FM Alex Smith, health reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

Coming after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, this piece examined the debate surrounding the devices. At the time, Missouri, like many states, had no laws restricting e-cigarettes. While state lawmakers passed a law codifying the ban, they also prevented e-cigarettes from being regulated as tobacco. The legislators and industry groups argued not enough was known about the health effects of e-cigarettes. Health advocates countered that the lack of certainty argued in favor of more restrictions, not fewer. They also questioned the influence that big tobacco companies, which had just introduced their own e-cigarettes, had on the legislation.

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Obamacare Ad Onslaught FactCheck.org Lori Robertson, Managing Editor (with Brooks Jackson, Director emeritus) 2014 Health Policy (large)

The 2014 midterms were already awash in ads about the Affordable Care Act in early April. Most of the advertising was negative, with many false and misleading messages. In this series of articles, we sought to set the record straight for voters who were bombarded by the relentless volume of ads. The ACA had been the focus of political advertising for several years: $500 million had been spent on such advertising from 2009 through mid-2013. But the Campaign Media Analysis Group expected that another half a billion dollars would be spent by late March 2015. We culled through the ads, from both congressional candidates and outside groups like Americans for Prosperity, and found that many fit into four categories of misleading messaging: claims about “millions” losing insurance, premiums “skyrocketing,” families “hurting,” and the ACA being a government takeover of health care. We fact-checked each category of claims in a series of pieces we called “Party Lines,” a feature on common, misleading talking points. For instance, Americans for Prosperity claimed in several ads that “millions” of people had lost their health insurance under the ACA. That was a reference to individual market plans that were discontinued – but people were offered alternative policies, not denied coverage. We laid out the evidence that then showed far more had gained coverage under the law than had their policies canceled. As for “skyrocketing” premiums, another common claim, we found premiums for employer-sponsored insurance had been growing at historically low rates in recent years. Those on the individual market would see their premiums go up or down, perhaps significantly in some cases, depending on various individual circumstances. We explained why. The general claim that the ACA was “hurting” families ignored the fact that millions of uninsured families would gain health care coverage under the law, many through free or low-cost Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage. And finally, we found the years-old “government-run” health care claim was still alive and well in a few congressional races. We explained that the law doesn’t create a government-run system but instead boosts both Medicaid and business for private insurers while leaving the work-based system most Americans use intact.

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Population health: Why the hottest term in healthcare is getting problematic Becker's Healthcare Molly Gamble, Editor-in-chief 2014 Health Policy (large)

"One of the most popular and exciting terms in healthcare, "population health," is used liberally and frequently. In its truest form, population health refers to the health of an entire population in a geographic area and the social determinants that influence the population's wellbeing. These include education, crime, housing and employment, among other factors that might fall outside the realm of a hospital or physician office. The problem is healthcare is using this term so wildly that population health runs the risk of becoming healthcare-specific jargon instead of a policy concept shared between social institutions, public health agencies and policymakers."

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Teaching the Internet to whisper: The evolution of HIPAA Becker's Healthcare Akanksha Jayanthi, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

"The article looks at the development, usage and applicability of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act since President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1996. Interestingly, HIPAA was not intended to be this so-called "healthcare privacy law." Instead, it was originally meant to protect health insurance coverage for workers who lost or changed jobs. However, as the health information technology sector grew and more electronic data was being created, HIPAA was amended to address new privacy concerns. The sources the journalist worked with offered insight and first-hand experience of understanding the new law in its early years as well as navigating its subsequent changes in the new IT space. Although HIPAA is widely called upon for privacy reasons, it appears it is still largely misunderstood by the general public and some hospitals, as healthcare organizations seem to use the law to protect themselves in certain legal scenarios instead of using the law to protect patients, as it is intended to do."

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ProPublica: Personhood ProPublica Nina Martin, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

In 2013, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling permitting the prosecution of pregnant drug users under the state’s so-called “chemical endangerment of a child” statute. Under the court’s interpretation of the 2006 law, any woman who exposed her unborn child to illegal drugs in utero could be charged with a felony and sentenced to up to 20 years to life in prison (if the child was stillborn or died at birth). The ruling was unusual for a number of reasons. The chemical endangerment statute had been enacted to protect children from dangerous meth labs, not to punish pregnant addicts. The Alabama court’s ruling was also far more sweeping than similar decisions by other state high courts. Finally, the ruling consisted of two parts, both written by Justice Tom Parker. The main opinion dealt with the facts of the case; the second “special concurrence” was a lengthy treatise about fetal rights and abortion. The ruling was not an aberration. In at least two other recent cases that had nothing to do with abortion, Parker had issued rulings aimed at creating a new jurisprudence of personhood — the idea that a fetus is fully human from the moment of conception and that Roe v. Wade is thus unconstitutional. Carefully, deliberately, and with very little fanfare, he was using the imprimatur of his office to establish a body of law that might eventually be used to overturn Roe. Parker, it turned out, had been a longtime combatant in Alabama’s fights to restore religion to the courts and the schools, with strong ties to far-right religious organizations and the anti-abortion movement. When he joined the court in 2005, he had staffed it with leading figures in the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which believes that God is the foundation of all law and that judges are morally bound to follow biblical teachings. In speeches and op-eds, Parker had made plain his intentions. But until this ProPublica piece, very few people outside the burgeoning personhood movement were paying any attention.

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Hurting for Work Texas Tribune Jay Root, Reporter (with Becca Aaronson, News Apps Producer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

The Texas Tribune’s four-part “Hurting for Work” investigation exposed gaping holes in the workers’ compensation system in Texas, where a booming economy is adding jobs at a nation-leading pace that has the state’s top elected officials touting a “Texas miracle.” Behind this robust growth, however, are the workers on whose backs this “miracle” has been built — and they’re rarely the beneficiaries of it. Among our project’s findings: Texas leads the nation in worker fatalities. It’s the only state in the union that doesn’t require private employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. More than 90 percent of those employers ignore a law requiring them to notify the state that they’ve opted out of providing such coverage. And even when injured employees in Texas are lucky enough to have workers’ compensation coverage, almost half of their claims are initially denied or disputed by the state — and their odds of success are worsening. The result? More than half a million Texas workers have no insurance against injury or death on the job, leaving them and their families helpless in the face of devastating workplace accidents. Another 1.27 million Texans have private insurance plans that fall short of the state’s standards, and routinely tie injured workers and their relatives up in costly court battles.

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The Cost of Not Caring USA Today Staff 2014 Health Policy (large)


Place: Second Place

This nine-part examined what the country pays for ignoring the needs of the 10 million Americans with serious mental illness and failing to repair the country’s crumbling mental health system. We found that the country spends far more by neglecting the mentally ill than it would by providing decent care and services, for example. The human cost of neglect is even greater, with nearly 600,000 Americans with mental illness end up incarcerated, homless or dead every year.

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How Obamacare Went South In Mississippi Kaiser Health News/Politico Magazine Sarah Varney 2014 Health Policy (large)


Place: Third Place

This story is an examination of the systemic governmental failures of the first year of implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Mississippi, the nation’s poorest, least-healthy and most segregated state. Using extensive on-the-ground interviews, close analysis of the state’s health-care performance, its complicated political past and current political crosswinds, “How Obamacare Went South In Mississippi” uncovered a series of cascading problems, including bumbling errors and misinformation; ignorance and disorganization; a haunting racial divide; and, above all, the unyielding ideological imperative of conservative politics. 

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We Were Warned MedPage Today Roger Sergel, Senior Executive Editor, Video (with Greg Laub, Director-Video, ) 2014 Health Policy (large)

This was a video feature on the warnings last spring from MSF/Doctors Without Borders -- mostly unheeded by governments -- that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa would soon spin out of control if more resources were not deployed. The warning was, of course, all too accurate.

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ACA and rural health USA Today Laura Ungar, National/Regional Health Enterprise Reporter (with Jayne O'Donnell, health policy reporter; Rick Hampson, general assignment reporter) 2014 Health Policy (large)

One story examines the way health reform is playing out in one of America's sickest, poorest regions as the Affordable Care Act gets under way. Reporters found it is neither a cure-all nor a train wreck. The other examines how health reform and other government policies are hurting rural hospital and forcing many to close across the nation.

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Medicare Unmasked The Wall Street Journal Staff 2014 Health Policy (large)


Place: First Place

The Wall Street Journal forced the government to publicly release important data that had been kept secret for decades, and analyzed it to uncover extensive medical abuses that cost taxpayers. Persistent reporting and a successful Journal lawsuit against the government led the U.S. in April to release Medicare billing by doctors and others to the public for the first time since the late 1970s. This triggered a sweeping WSJ investigation into the $600 billion federal system.

In the process, the Journal has struck a major blow for gaining accessibility to government data at a time when the Obama administration is fighting to keeping information closely held from the media and public.

A team of reporters and data experts created numerous programs to analyze the numbers and make sense of them all. They developed new features to enhance the Journal’s database search tool and make it even more engaging and useful for consumers. The effort helped generate a series of interactive graphics, charts and other art.

Judges' comments: “Medicare Unmasked’’ had all the hallmarks of terrific public service journalism: brilliant news instincts, aggressive pursuit of public records, and masterful writing on a dense topic to show readers how doctors were billing the public for millions of dollars in questionable procedures. But its contribution went well beyond eight strong stories. The Journal forced the government to release Medicare documents in a way that helped dozens of other newsrooms and produced a powerful wave of follow-up stories.

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Affordable Care Act and You Alabama Media Group Mike Gill Oliver, Reporter (with Brendan Kirby, Reporter; Scott Walker, Editor) 2014 Health Policy (large)

We asked: in online overtures, in newspaper invitations and in interactive chats. They answered from around our state: Some 790 readers responded to requests by Alabama Media Group to tell us their experiences with the Affordable Care Act. They represented 196 cities, and 48 of Alabama¹s 67 counties. And we shared these stories – dozens of them throughout 2014 – on digital and print platforms serving our company’s newspapers, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Press-Register of Mobile, and their web partner, AL.com. These stories moved the “Obamacare” issue past the partisan battle lines, delivering a deeper understanding of the new law’s impact on the cost, availability and quality of health care in Alabama. Also, we established a database of the respondents, using it to create case studies and tapping it to seek opinions for other stories about health policies and health-issue politics. Often, these real-people voices exposed misconceptions and challenged the assurances of business and elected leaders. In particular, we heard the respondents express frustrations with their insurers. Given that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama dominates the market in our state, we dug into that company’s financial filings, to learn how it operates and how it performs. We found that compensation of the 10 highest-ranking Blue Cross executives (all over $1 million a year) had doubled in two years, even as many policy-holders were struggling to deal with increased Blue Cross premiums. Also during the year, we invited readers to participate in two interactive live chats online at AL.com featuring experts such as professors from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Lister Hill Center for Health Policy. The number of comments exceeded 350, reflecting the interest and the vigor of the health care debate. These tactics – open invitations, a database, chats – helped us engage readers in pioneering ways for Alabama, reaching further than ever before. In fact, our stories about the ACA and its real-people impacts have received more than 1.8 million views at AL.com since our reporting efforts began.

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Nursing homes unmasked Sacramento Bee Phillip Howard Reese, Reporter (with Marjie Lundstrom, Reporter) 2014 Health Policy (large)

An investigation into who owns California nursing homes; how nursing homes often hide ownership information; how the same problems often persist across nursing home ownership chains and how state regulators consistently focus on single homes instead of chains.

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Discarded kidneys Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Luis Fabregas, Medical Editor (with Andrew Conte, Investigative Reporter) 2014 Health Policy (large)

Taxpayers paid $405.6 million for kidneys in 2012 – even though doctors threw out 20 percent of them. Organ procurement organizations across the country have little incentive to fix the problem because they get paid whether the organ is used or not. For the 4,300 people who die waiting for a kidney transplant each year, the consequence of doctors throwing out 2,600 kidneys each year means everything. At the top of the list in 2012, the Center for Organ Recovery & Education in Western Pennsylvania had 40 percent of its kidneys end up in the garbage.

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Living Poor and Uninsured in a Red State Atlantic Olga Khazan, Staff Writer 2014 Health Policy (large)

This story examines the repercussions of the decision to reject the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Texas, the state with the highest uninsured rate in the nation at the time (today it’s tied with Nevada). Traveling from Dallas to Galveston, I interviewed several uninsured people who exemplify how having either too high--or too low--of an income can preclude one from joining Texas’ extremely limited Medicaid program and lead to a worsening of health outcomes. Among others, I interviewed an uninsured homeless man named Mark Oswald who had a year elapse between his initial ER visit for mouth pain and his eventual diagnosis of tongue cancer. According to cancer specialists, head and neck cancers are most treatable when addressed within 100 days of the onset of symptoms. Oswald’s condition got much more severe because he was uninsured. The story also shows how Texas’ existing patchwork system of indigent-care charities and low-income clinics fails poor Texans far more frequently than Medicaid coverage would, particularly when it comes to specialty care. I discuss how other states that rejected the Medicaid expansion will fare similarly.

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Are Company Wellness Plans Good For Your Health? Freelance Peter Jaret, Writer 2014 Health Policy (large)

Virtually all American companies with over 1,000 employees have wellness plans. Common wisdom has it that they make people healthier and loser costs. This feature article investigated those claims and found that wellness plans offer fewer benefits -- and pose far more risks -- than is commonly believed. Some plans are coercive and compromise patient confidentiality. Others, while well-intentioned, do little to improve employee health. And there's little evidence that wellness plans save money for employers. Still, as our investigation showed, well-designed plans can improve morale and may, over the long term, help employees stay healthier.

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Devices Get Quick Approval, Little Follow-Up From FDA The Wall Street Journal Jon Kamp, special writer (with Thomas M. Burton, reporter) 2014 Health Policy (large)

The Journal revealed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was aware of the risk of spreading cancer when it first approved the laparoscopic power morcellator for gynecology in the 1990s. The piece was part of a Journal investigation about a once common medical procedure—the use of a morcellator for minimally invasive hysterectomies. Throughout the course of the year, the Journal revealed that doctors and companies evangelized for the device without fully considering the risks or informing patients; the government agency responsible for the safety of medical devices ignored its own internal concerns; and women went into surgery believing they had a simple, benign condition and emerged facing a battle for their lives. The Journal’s coverage unmistakably altered the course of medicine and saved the lives of an untold number of women.

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Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue Intelligence Squared U.S. STAFF, STAFF 2014 Health Policy (large)

"A non-partisan, nonprofit debate organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis, and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. Recorded in front of a live, voting audience, IQ2US pursues this mission through an annual series of Oxford-style debates, featuring two teams of experts arguing for and against a provocatively worded resolution. The award-winning series has reached millions through multi-platform distribution, including live streaming (via FORA.tv), radio (225+ NPR stations nationwide), television (formerly on Bloomberg and PBS), podcasts, and interactive digital content. With close to 100 debates, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to "think twice" on a wide range of provocative topics. The debates have attracted some of the world's top thinkers, including economist Paul Krugman, Dr. Neal Barnard, writer Malcolm Gladwell, former governor Howard Dean, philosopher Peter Singer, best-selling author Andrew Solomon, Monsanto chief technology officer Robert Fraley, former surgeon general David Satcher, entrepreneur Peter Thiel, activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, law professor Zephyr Teachout, and former CIA director Michael Hayden. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. Dana Wolfe is the executive producer. In January 2014, IQ2US debated the motion “Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue.” With the disastrous launch of the HealthCare.gov website, critics of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” were given more fuel for the fire. Was this political hot potato's inevitability once again at stake? And was the medical community really on board with the law, or resisting (rewriting?) it from the sidelines? Former FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb teamed up with Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle to argue against Obamacare. In its defense: Jonathan Chait of New York magazine and Dr. Douglas Kamerow, the former Assistant Surgeon General."

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Labor Intensive KUOW FM Seattle Isolde Raftery, Online Editor (with Jessica Robinson, Reporter, Northwest News Network; Ruby de Luna, Reporter, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio) 2014 Health Policy (large)

Cesarean deliveries have increased over the last 15 years in Washington state – for no apparent medical reason. Now hospitals around the state are trying to bring those rates back down. In an unprecedented series on C-section rates in our region, KUOW combed through individual hospital records to create a database of C-section rates at every hospital in Washington state over the last 15 years. The series examines why some rates are sky high – and what is being done to reverse this alarming trend.

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Medical Errors and Apologies Vancouver Sun Pamela Darlene Fayerman, Medical/Health Issues Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

A nurse and her police officer husband approached me about the botched labour and delivery experience they had at a major hospital. They were in psychological counselling at the time as they each had PTSD after losing their infant within a month after her birth. Their police dept. psychologist gave them my name and suggested that speaking out would help them heal. They also believed it might compel hospital leaders to apologize and would inform the public about patient safety/quality care issues. Canadian laws are very different when it comes to litigation and compensation so the couple were advised by multiple lawyers that under the Family Compensation Act, they would get very little since the loss of a child is not considered a financial burden. This compounded the couple's hurt. It took me nearly three weeks to get hospital leaders and doctors to agree to interviews. In one of the most shocking interviews I did, I found out that the apologetic medical leader was actually grieving himself after his own medical error nightmare involving his daughter who committed suicide after being discharged from an ER before being seen by a doctor. The package helped a family find some closure and taught health consumers how to be proactive about their care, how and where to complain when things go wrong. It sheds light on the little known Apology Act. It goes a long way to informing and guiding health providers about their moral and ethical responsibilities. Lawyers for my newspaper chopped out alot of info to ensure we didn't point fingers at specific doctors with their deep pockets for litigation. The package makes it clear that there were miscues on the part of certain obstetricians who refused to talk on the record.

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Poor Health Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Lillian Thomas, writer (with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff) 2014 Health Policy (large)

Part 1 of the “Poor Health” series used analysis of data from major U.S. metropolitan areas to show that people in poor neighborhoods are less healthy than their more affluent neighbors but more likely to live in areas with physician shortages and closed hospitals. Though research shows that poverty is correlated with poor health, the Post-Gazette and Journal Sentinel reporting by Lillian Thomas, Kevin Crowe and Guy Boulton showed that hospitals and doctors are following privately insured patients to more affluent areas rather than remaining anchored in communities with the greatest health care needs. The data analysis by Kevin Crowe showed that nearly two-thirds of the roughly 230 hospitals opened since 2000 were in wealthier, mostly suburban areas. The closures taking place were mostly of small to mid-size community hospitals in poor urban neighborhoods, as well as public hospitals. The findings were shown in interactive maps of the 52 metro areas, developed by Allan James Vestal of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that allowed users to view hospital openings and closures, physician shortage areas, disability rates and income by census tract. Part 2 of the series focused on the frayed health care safety net in the Pittsburgh region. The stories, reported and written by Sean D. Hamill, began by pointing out that 11 of 39 hospitals in the region closed between 2000 and 2010 — and all but one of them were large providers of care to the poor. Further stories explored how that even with an increased number of free and federal health centers, the poor in the region often find that the care they need is unavailable to them. The reasons include transportation challenges or inability to get appointments with specialists, or because of high co-pays on insurance or upfront payments for those without insurance. The stories described efforts in other regions around the country to overcome these barriers through innovative programs that attempt to get the poor the care they need. Several stories illustrated efforts to make a difference for the poor — including volunteers at free clinics — but showed that holes remained in the safety net for patients in the face of inaction on the issue by the larger hospitals. Part 3 described some potential solutions to the problems raised in the first two parts of the series. It looked at programs and health systems that decided to focus on the poor, making them the centerpiece of efforts to spend less and give better care. Stories described a Philadelphia program in which outreach workers helped link patients with providers and worked to keep such patients healthy by helping with medication, diet, transportation, housing and other issues. The major reporting effort was on the work being done in Oregon, where an aggressive effort to lower costs and improve care for Medicaid patients is underway.

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No Relief Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Cary Spivak, reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

The stories looked at the dramatic decline in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Wisconsin while the assets of a unique state-managed insurance fund for doctors and hospitals grew to more than $1.1 billion. Among the findings: ? A series of state laws and court rulings are keeping people with legitimate medical malpractice claims from finding attorneys willing to take their cases. The most startling Wisconsin law is a measure that allows only spouses, minor children or the parents of minor children to file lawsuits for deaths caused by medical malpractice. No state has a stricter limitation. ? The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Wisconsin fell to 140 last year, a drop of more than 50% since 1999. Meanwhile, the assets in the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund have grown from $500 million in 1999 to $1.15 billion in March 2014. (It has since grown to $1.18 billion as of June 20, 2014.) ? The state’s Medical Mediation Panels — an arm of the state Supreme Court created to resolve medical malpractice claims — are virtually useless. Of the 302 claims filed with the agency in 2012 and 2013, more than 60% end up listed as “expired,” meaning they died because of procedural or scheduling problems. Only 67 — or 22% — actually went to a hearing, and only two of those were resolved at their hearings. ? The medical lobby, through bipartisan political contributions and support from the business community, has put together an impressive record of getting legislation through the state Capitol. The trial lawyers’ lobby, on the other hand, contributes almost exclusively to Democrats and generally have few allies when pushing for or against legislation. For example, 32 lobbying groups recently registered to support a bill that would prevent a doctor’s apology to a patient from being used against the physician in court. Only two groups, including the trial lawyers organization, registered in opposition of the bill, which is now law. ? Medical malpractice insurance companies are experiencing boom times, posting profits for eight consecutive years. One large insurer recorded a 103% profit margin on its premiums nationwide in 2010.

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Death Beds WNYC Fred Mogul, Reporter (with Julianne Welby, Editor; Jenny Ye, Data News Producer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

"Death Beds" is a series of three enterprise reports that explore why people in the New York Metro area tend to spend their dying days in hospitals instead of at home or in hospice care. The first report, "Terminally Ill, Constantly Hospitalized," probed the medical culture of New York and why officials have not made progress in their efforts to give patients greater control over the time, place and circumstances of their deaths. The second report, "Too Little, Too Late for many New Yorkers Seeking Hospice," raised questions about why more patients are not given access to hospice care, despite its availability to many people — even those on Medicaid. In the third piece, "Living Wills Slowly Take Root," we discuss why so few New Yorkers have living wills compared to the rest of the country, and what people should know about creating and updating them. In all, the series drove home the financial and emotional costs behind the disturbing trends we found in the data."

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Billing for Rape NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune Rebecca Catalanello, Staff Writer (with Kathleen Flynn, Staff photographer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

"A woman called with a horrifying story. She'd been raped, then went to the hospital, where she was questioned and processed for evidence. Eight days later, she got the first of two billing statements indicating she would owe hundreds of dollars for her care, including the costs of HIV drugs, STD and pregnancy tests, use of an ER room and more. The story, it turned out, was not uncommon. In Louisiana, victims of sex crimes often face paralyzing bills for forensic medical exams and related care, even though state and federal guidelines require that many of these services be provided at no cost to the victim. There's also little continuity in how rape victims are treated from parish to parish and hospital to hospital. The state's Crime Victims Reparations Fund does permit victims to apply for reimbursement for some medical expenses, but there are strict limitations regarding who can qualify, including a requirement that the victim file a police report, a measure which statistically closes out about two-thirds of all sex assault victims, according to studies. They also can't have had any felonies in the past five years. They can't have behaved in a way that, in the opinion of the board, "contributed to the crime." And they can't have been involved in other illegal activity at the time they were victimized. As further reporting revealed, those restrictions meant only 33 sexual assault survivors in 2013 even applied for financial reimbursement for medical costs. And between 2009 and 2013, just 164 people successfully received money through Crime Victims Reparations — a small fraction of the roughly 1,200 forcible rapes reported to Louisiana law enforcement annually and the 2,500 who turned to rape crisis centers for help in 2013."

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Poor Health Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sean Dennis Hamill, Reporter (with Lillian Thomas, Reporter/editor) 2014 Health Policy (large)

Part 1 of the Poor Health series used analysis of data from major U.S. metropolitan areas to show that people in poor neighborhoods are less healthy than their more affluent neighbors but more likely to live in areas with physician shortages and closed hospitals. Though research shows that poverty is correlated with poor health, we showed that hospitals and doctors are following privately insured patients to more affluent areas rather than remaining anchored in communities with the greatest health care needs. The data analysis showed that nearly two-thirds of the roughly 230 hospitals opened since 2000 were in wealthier, mostly suburban areas. The closures taking place were mostly of small to mid-size community hospitals in poor urban neighborhoods, as well as public hospitals. The findings were shown in interactive maps of the 52 metro areas that allowed users to view hospital openings and closures, physician shortage areas, disability rates and income by census tract. Part 2 of the Poor Health series focused on the frayed healthcare safety net in the Pittsburgh region. The five stories began by pointing out that 11 of 39 hospitals in the region closed between 2000 and 2010 – and all but one of them were large providers of care to the poor. Further stories explored how that even with an increased number of free and federal health centers, the poor in the region often find that the care they need is unavailable to them. The reasons, the series found, include transportation challenges, inability to get appointments with specialists, or because of high co-pays on insurance or upfront payments for those without insurance. The stories described efforts in other regions around the country to overcome these barriers through innovative programs that attempt to get the poor the care they need, programs the Pittsburgh region has not employed. Several stories illustrated efforts to make a difference for the poor – including volunteers at free clinics – but showed that holes remained in the safety net for patients in the face of inaction on the issue by the larger hospitals. Part 3 focused on solutions to problems outlined in the first two parts of the series. The solutions looked at programs from around the country and in our focus cities of Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Individual stories showed how a mobile, volunteer clinic in Indianapolis has met the needs of homeless there. A story out of a struggling steel town in suburban Pittsburgh showed how a free clinic opened there when a physician was told by his health system employer that he could not provide more care to the poor in his office. Another story out of Philadelphia showed how outreach workers helped patients navigate the health care system and with nonmedical issues, such as housing and transportation, with a goal of reducing readmission to hospitals. The major reporting effort was on the work being done in Oregon, where an aggressive effort to lower costs and improve care for Medicaid patients is under way.

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To Die at Home The New York Times Nina Bernstein, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

“Fighting to Honor a Father’s Last Wish: To Die at Home” The story of one woman’s struggle to honor her ailing 91-year-old father’s wish to die at home, and the forces in the health care system arrayed against them, including New York State’s shift of billions of dollars in Medicaid spending on long-term services to managed care companies. “Medicaid Shift Fuels Rush for Profitable Clients” How the state’s Medicaid redesign prompted a gold rush among managed care companies and service providers to enroll clients requiring minimal care. The investigation focused on what happened to residents of two adult homes in Queens who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy. “Pitfalls Seen in a Turn to Privately Run Long-Term Care” Like New York, at least 25 other states were shifting billions of dollars for long term care to private managed care companies. A close look revealed systemic problems, including the denial of care to people after their needs grew costlier.

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Donna's Last Days freelance Virginia Lynne Anderson, reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

"Donna's Last Days" shined a light on the burden of cancer on the poor by telling the story of a single, indigent mother of six as she went through the final days of her life. The article showed how, as systems failed Donna, her teenaged children had to step in and take up the slack. Her 15-year-old son changed her diaper when nurses at Atlanta's premier hospital would not. When a local hospice changed her pain medication, she hallucinated, but the doctor refused to change her medicine back to the original prescription. Even in her death, she faced insult, after a funeral home director hoping to capitalize on a fundraiser in her behalf got mad when he couldn't get money from the six children, bringing Donna's body in a cardboard box to a pauper's grave in southern Fulton County. The article also raised questions about the higher mortality rates for black women with breast cancer than for other groups of women with breast cancer, making the point that poverty and social policy and structure may be to blame more than biology."

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The Affordable Care Act's Effects On Businesses 90.3 WCPN ideastream Sarah Jane Tribble, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

This series of stories explores the complex implementation of the Affordable Care Act through the lens of small, medium and large employers. Taken together, the three stories reveal how the law's benefits to the uninsured are being paid for through mandates and taxes levied on employers and their workers. The first story (4/30/2014) told of a small business owner who grapples with the law's impact on volatile insurance prices. The second story (5/1/2014) hears from a medium sized owner who is wrestling with how much to increase what his largely unhealthy employees pay for insurance or whether to send them to Ohio's federal marketplace. And in the final story (5/2/2014) one of the country's largest companies discloses that the law will cost it millions in extra insurance fees. The three- part series is an eye-opening reminder that the Affordable Act does come at a cost.

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10 Medical Tests to Avoid AARP Media Elizabeth Angvall, Writer (with Gabi Redford, Editor) 2014 Health Policy (large)

In “10 Medical Tests to Avoid,” the AARP Bulletin examined tests and treatments commonly overused by Americans over 50. These screening tests and procedures often yield false-positive results that lead to invasive procedures, medications and unnecessary surgeries. Each year in the United States, an estimated $225 billion is wasted on unnecessary medical tests and services. In clear, straightforward language, Elizabeth Agnvall, detailed why these specific tests were often unnecessary, the harms that come from them, and the symptoms or conditions that warrant them.

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Legalize Assisted Suicide Intelligence Squared U.S. STAFF, STAFF 2014 Health Policy (large)

"A non-partisan, nonprofit debate organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis, and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. Recorded in front of a live, voting audience, IQ2US pursues this mission through an annual series of Oxford-style debates, featuring two teams of experts arguing for and against a provocatively worded resolution. The award-winning series has reached millions through multi-platform distribution, including live streaming (via FORA.tv), radio (225+ NPR stations nationwide), television (formerly on Bloomberg and PBS), podcasts, and interactive digital content. With close to 100 debates, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to "think twice" on a wide range of provocative topics. The debates have attracted some of the world's top thinkers, including economist Paul Krugman, Dr. Neal Barnard, writer Malcolm Gladwell, former governor Howard Dean, Monsanto chief technology officer Robert Fraley, former surgeon general David Satcher, entrepreneur Peter Thiel, activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, law professor Zephyr Teachout, and former CIA director Michael Hayden. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. Dana Wolfe is the executive producer. In November 2014, not two weeks after Brittany Maynard’s decision to end her life reignited that national debate around physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, IQ2US debated the motion “Legalize Assisted Suicide.” Both sides brought powerful personal anecdotes to the debate. Arguing in favor of assisted suicide: psychologist and best-selling author Andrew Solomon, and Peter Singer, often described as the world's most influential living philosopher. Arguing against assisted suicide: Baroness Ilora Finlay, a leading palliative care physician and president of the British Medical Association, and Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, member of the Presidential Bioethics Commission and professor of medicine and ethics at the University of Chicago."

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Understaffed and Underserved: A Look Inside America’s Nursing Homes The Center for Public Integrity Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Reporter (with Jon Lowenstein, Photographer) 2014 Health Policy (large)

The “Understaffed and Underserved” project tackled three areas of nursing home care that had received little to no previous journalistic attention. The first major piece exposed the systematic discrepancies between the self-reported staffing levels of nursing homes and the average daily level we calculated through an analysis of financial cost reports. These discrepancies were present for all ownership types and staffing positions, and they were greatest for registered nurses. In more than 80 percent of the nursing homes in the analysis, staffing levels listed on public website Nursing Home Compare were greater than those we calculated through the cost reports analysis. This continued use of self-reported staffing data violated a provision of the Affordable Care Act mandating that nursing homes transition from that method to a payroll-based approach by March 2012, which has not yet happened. In this story we also examined minimum state staffing standards for direct care for nursing home residents and the average daily level we calculated through the cost reports. We found that more than 700 nursing homes across the country had daily staffing levels lower than the state requirements. In an accompanying sidebar, we highlighted the close to 50 nursing homes that had a five-star rating for overall quality and had little difference between Nursing Home Compare staffing levels and the average daily levels calculated through the cost reports analysis. The second story revealed that 240 nursing homes across the country since 2009 have received low-cost, HUD-backed mortgages worth nearly $2 billion the month after receiving the lowest possible quality rating from the federal government. We dug deeper and found that nearly 30 percent of these facilities had received an earlier HUD-guaranteed mortgage; the values of these earlier loans was an additional $530 million. The third story highlighted the national disparities in the amount of registered nurse care received by residents of homes where the majority of residents are white compared with the amount received by residents of homes where most residents are black or Latino. These disparities existed in the Nursing Home Compare data, but were greater in the cost reports analysis, where average staffing levels for all groups were lower. We looked at a series of variables about the residents, the market concentration and whether the area was urban or rural to try to explain the differences. None fully did.

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"TennCare on Trial" series" The Tennessean Tom Wilemon, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

These stories are about barriers Tennessee caused for people trying to apply for Medicaid coverage. They detail how an agency abandoned direct assistance for people who really needed that help. They also detail other problems within the state Medicaid program.

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Obamacare Enrollees Emboldened to Leave Jobs, Start Businesses Southern California Public Radio Stephanie Anna O'Neill, Health Care Correspondent 2014 Health Policy (large)

"How the Affordable Care Act is dissolving "job lock" for some unhappy workers and allowing them to start new businesses."

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Georgia's Coverage Gap The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Misty Rae Williams, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (large)

This two-part series by health care reporter Misty Williams explores how hundreds of thousands of Georgians are being left behind by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid. Williams found that more than 400,000 of the state's poorest, most vulnerable citizens fall into a so-called coverage gap. They make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to get federal tax credits to help buy coverage on the health insurance marketplace. Williams demonstrates this gaping divide with key statistics culled from federal and state data, in-depth studies of the law and interviews with top national and state health policy experts. Part one of the series tells the personal stories of those trapped in the coverage gap. Part two delves into what Georgia's rejection of Medicaid expansion means for the state's economy and its future. Williams found that Georgia is turning away more than $30 billion in new federal funding and forgoing the creation of 70,000 jobs among other findings.

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Down the Rabbit Hole: A Chronic Pain Sufferer Navigates the Maze of Opioid Use freelance Janice Lynch Schuster, writer 2014 Health Policy (small)

Ran as Narrative Matters essay in the journal, Health Affairs. Chronicles my own experience with chronic pain, with an analysis of the public policies around opioid prescribing and use that add to the challenges of living with pain.

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I Want You To Lower The Dose Freelance Lisa Chamoff, Writer (with Robert Garment, Executive Editor) 2014 Health Policy (small)

Reported on the impact the MITA (Medical Imaging & Technology Association) Smart Dose Standard (also known as XR-29) will having on CT scan reimbursements in 2016 and 2017.

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Rural hospitals face emergency The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier Lauren Sausser 2014 Health Policy (small)


Place: Second Place

While hospitals in urban parts of the state are breaking ground on new buildings and pulling in millions of dollars in profits every year, rural hospitals in South Carolina and across the country have struggled to stay open on thin operating margins, been forced to merge with larger systems or close completely. Lauren Sausser reported this larger story through the prism of one rural hospital in Allendale County, which has the lowest occupancy rate in the whole state and whose longtime administrator will soon retire.

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Obamacare: Ready or Not The Morning Call Tim Darragh, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (small)

Ten stories were submitted. Each deals with the progress of Obamacare and various aspects of the new health-care policy. The series actually started about six months before open enrollment began and continued into the new year. Some of the topics covered were: the demographics of who is enrolling, the number of insurers involved in open enrollment, Obamcare’s affect on small businesses, the gap that left many Pennsylvania’s not covered because the state didn’t expand Medicaid, and the reason why comparatively fewer Latinos had signed up.

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State Officials Prioritized Insurance Exchange Over Enrollment System for the Poor California Health Report Hannah Guzik, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (small)

This article told the story behind the Medicaid backlog in California and broke the news that state officials had decided to focus on the Covered California exchange ahead of the expansion of Medicaid, significantly contributing to the backlog of 900,000 applications. We found that state officials had repeatedly made decisions to place the Medicaid expansion on the back burner, ultimately impacting hundreds of thousands of low-income people. In the months after the expansion of Medicaid, there were many headlines on the massive application backlogs nationwide. California had the largest backlog, but until this story, no one knew exactly why. We told that story.

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"Heroin hits home" Duluth News Tribune John Lundy Lundy, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (small)

We were aware of a number of heroin overdoses and heroin-related arrests in our region. We wanted to find out why, what was being done and what could be done. We learned that the number of people seeking treatment and the number of overdose deaths had risen precipitously in Minnesota, along with the number of criminal cases. Experts consider methadone an effective treatment, but it's problematic in our region because the lone methadone clinic has been cited for numerous violations and is operating under a revoked license, and two county workers were killed by a driver operating under the influence of methadone. We explored other alternatives, including some already being used with some success, such as the Duluth Drug Court.

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Death of a Nursing Home Freelance Wallace Roberts, reporter 2014 Health Policy (small)

The Lemington Home for the Aged in Pittsburgh was one of 600 predominately low-income, African American or Hispanic nursing homes that went bankrupt between 1999 and 2008 because low Medicaid reimbursement rates are not high enough to allow them to compete successfully against the big chains for the higher-paying Medicare and private pay residents. The primary reason Medicaid's rates are low is that the law is based on a section the Social Security Act of 1935 that was inserted by Southern Congressmen to allow the states to determine eligibility standards and benefit amounts of welfare programs (and Medicaid is a welfare law, not a health insurance program) so that they could continue to discriminate against Blacks and protect their segregationist society.

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The Secret Committee Behind Our Soaring Health Care Costs Columbia Journalism School Katie Jennings, Investigative Reporting Fellow 2014 Health Policy (small)

For the past 20 years, the government has relied on recommendations from a secretive, powerful committee—convened by the American Medical Association and largely populated by specialists—to determine how much doctors should be paid by Medicare. Not only are physicians getting together to fix the prices of the medical services they perform, the resulting distortion in payments is exacerbating the national shortage of primary care physicians, contributing to dramatically rising health care costs, and creating perverse incentives that reward unnecessary procedures. The existence of the committee, known as the RUC (AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee), has been reported on by multiple media outlets. However, in 2011, a group of six activist primary care physicians challenged the government’s reliance on this American Medical Association committee in federal court. My story chronicles the fight of these primary care doctors, led by Dr. Paul Fischer, for a more equitable reimbursement system for physician services.

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A Lonely Crusade Science Jennifer Megan Couzin-Frankel, Staff Writer 2014 Health Policy (small)

The story examines the policies that govern clinical trials for psychiatric drugs, told through the lens of bioethicist Carl Elliott and a young man for whom he has long sought justice, Dan Markingson. Markingson was 27 years old when he died by suicide during a clinical trial of antipsychotic drugs at Elliott's home base, the University of Minnesota. The story touches on several themes: Elliott's years-long fight against his employer; controversy over how clinical trials, especially those with vulnerable subjects, are monitored; and the structures in place to address conflicts and potential problems when something goes terribly wrong.

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The Hidden Failure of Obama's Health Care Overhaul CQ Roll Call Adams, Senior writer/ associate editor 2014 Health Policy (small)

Rebecca Adams provided the first and only nationally comprehensive look at the scope of government delays in processing Medicaid applications. She found that states had not yet told at least 2.9 million people who signed up for Medicaid coverage whether they qualified for benefits. Some people had waited for more than seven months. During that time, some people who were waiting for eligibility decisions put off medical care they needed, which placed them at risk for worsening medical conditions.

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In Crisis: Idaho's fragmented mental health system Idaho Statesman Audrey Dutton, Reporter (with Emilie Ritter Saunders, Reporter, Boise State Public Radio) 2014 Health Policy (small)

Idaho has among the highest suicide rates in the country — 1.5 times the national average over a 10-year period. In some parts of Idaho, the suicide rate is four times the U.S. average. Jails, hospitals and homeless shelters are crowded with people who can't afford treatment. The entire state is a mental-health provider shortage area. Meanwhile, state lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid to include many of the adults with mental illnesses, and mental health gets a progressively smaller share of the public-health budget each year. The state hired a managed-care company, Optum, to run its Medicaid behavioral-health services, which resulted in service cuts, payment delays and a federal investigation into potential privacy violations by Optum. We found effective programs that were underfunded and/or in silos that hindered their success. We also found that some of Idaho's mental-health crisis is worsened by general characteristics of the state, such as rural and isolated communities, low income and a severe shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists.

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True Cost of Care The Santa Fe New Mexican Patrick Malone 2014 Health Policy (small)


Place: Third Place

Hospitals in New Mexico, on average, charge 547 percent the actual cost of performing medical services for outpatients, and 223 percent the actual cost of services provided to inpatients, according to analysis of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data. One for-profit hospital chain was responsible for the highest sticker prices, nearing 900 percent markups for outpatients and topping 475 percent for inpatients. This report exposed how those seemingly arbitrary prices affect patients with commercial insurance as well as uninsured patients, and the role pricing plays in hospitals’ charitable status, which can shift local tax burdens to other taxpayers.

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Siouxland Mental Health Sioux City Journal Dolly Ann Butz, Health reporter (with Molly Montag, Public safety reporter) 2014 Health Policy (small)

The Sioux City Journal in early May published an emotional three-part series examining the lack of mental health care services for young people in our region. Our focus was on the incredible challenges families face in Iowa, where 30 percent of residents live in a county with a mental health professional shortage. We found parents struggling to navigate a hodgepodge of independent providers and agencies. Some patients reported waiting up to eight weeks for an appointment. The reporting process took about four months, with extensive interviews and data collection. * Providers and state-run facilities in Iowa struggle to meet demand as the number of children with mental disorders increases. We found growing concern that long waits for appointments will result in children with mental illness ending up in emergency rooms; * A new Sioux City facility will mean more young people will receive the care they need close to home. * A statewide program is assisting families and connecting those in need with social workers, nurses and counselors.

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Bend ER docs often charge out of network The Bulletin Tara Bannow, Health reporter 2014 Health Policy (small)

Patients who visit emergency rooms in Central Oregon receive more than one bill afterward, and one of them tends to be from a physician whose name they don't recognize from an operation called Central Oregon Emergency Physicians. The local hospital systems contracts with this provider to staff its emergency rooms, but there is no requirement that COEP contract with the same insurers the hospital contracts with. So even if patients ensure the hospital is covered under their policies, COEP often is not.

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Is Obamacare a Boon or Bust for Entrepreneurship? California Healthline Michelle Stuckey, Editor 2014 Health Policy (small)

This story is an analysis of whether the Affordable Care Act has spurred entrepreneurship across the country.

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High Priced Drug Makes Its Way Into California Prisons California Healthline George Lauer, Features editor 2014 Health Policy (small)

Story examining state policy concerning use of an expensive new drug that sparked congressional debate and raised calls for price controls.

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The Kindness of Strangers: Inside Elder Guardianship in Florida Sarasota Herald-Tribune Barbara Peters Smith 2014 Health Policy (small)


Place: First Place

With an estimated 50 percent of Americans 85 and older experiencing cognitive impairment, the longevity boom has generated an increase in the number of elders who are deemed too frail or mentally compromised to handle their affairs. Most states, including Florida, have cobbled together an efficient way to identify and care for helpless elders, using the probate court system to place them under guardianship. But critics say this system – easily set in motion, notoriously difficult to stop – often ignores basic civil rights. They describe a ruthless determination to take elders from their homes and make them conform to a process by which their belongings can be sold, and their family and friends shut out – until eventually they are locked away in institutions to decline and die. Critics call this process “liquidate, isolate, medicate.” Through case studies, examining court documents and talking to those working for elder justice reform, we found consistent patterns of a lack of due process, an unwillingness to inform and involve family members, a one-size-fits-all approach to elders with diverse levels of capacity, substandard care for wards who lack assets, and high legal and professional fees for wards who have considerable assets. Fundamentally, the system treats elders as second-class citizens, before stripping them of citizenship altogether and rendering them as non-persons.

Judges' comments: "Liquidate, isolate, medicate." As powerfully described by Herald-Tribune reporter Barbara Peters Smith, this is the formula used to manage many infirm elderly residents of Florida, which can demand guardianship – and control over one's assets – even when those people or family members are willing and able to handle that role. This is a beautifully written, well sourced series and because of it, a woman locked in an assisted-living facility regained her civil rights.

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Mental Health in Rhode Island The Providence Journal G. Wayne Miller, Reporter (with Paul Davis, Reporter; Paul Edward Parker, Reporter) 2014 Health Policy (small)

10.26.14: Tipping point: As public system changes, many mentally ill residents pay the price with sidebar: Treatment is key to harnessing costs here in R.I. and the U.S. This kickoff story outlined the history of mental health care in Rhode Island and how it went from a national model to its current state of disarray. The story is written by the reporter who covered this issue throughout the 1980s. It is backed up with data -- financial and demographic. It uses multiple sources in the field and interviews with those affected to tell the story. Oct. 27: A victim of its own success.This story traces the drastic drop in financial support for treating mental illness and backs up the reporting in the main story. Nov. 2: In the shadows: Mentally ill homeless are hardest to reach and help: This story takes readers out onto the streets to hear from identified homeless people who are struggling with mental illness. We also hear from the social services people who are struggling to help them -- in the face of little financial or system support. The story is backed with statistics on homelessness and mental illness. Nov. 7: Publick Occurrences: A plea to fix state's mental health system: The Providence Journal hosts Publick Occurrences forums to invite experts and the public to deeply explores issues of important to our state. These forums are intended to educate and offer solutions. This forum on the state of our mental health system attracted more members of the public than the auditorium could hold. Nov. 23: 'People-first' terminology eases stigma: In his reporting on this issues, G. Wayne Miller learned about evolving terminology in discussion mental health issues. He thought it important to educate our readers as well. Dec. 14: Hundreds who need care forced into ACI: The story reveals how those with mental illness are frequently arrested and locked up. More than 15 percent of our state's inmates suffer from serious mental illness. The financial cost is high. Dec. 15: ACI lacks resources to care for mentally ill inmates: This story explains why prison is not a good alternative for those with mental illness.

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Mental Health Block Triangle Business Journal Jason Michael deBruyn, Reporter 2014 Health Policy (small)

North Carolina's Medicaid mental health system is failing not only patients, but is placing the wrong incentives on providers. The story looks at how policy in North Carolina hurt patients, hurt providers and benefit only a small number of investment groups

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How Health Care Costs Affect Small Town Living Freelance Susan F. Brink, Writer 2014 Health Policy (small)

The story illustrates how national health care spending trickles down to affect every state, city and small town in America. Through the lens of the small town of China, Maine, it shows that waste and duplication of services in health care ripples through public budgets. The result can be cuts in school, library and infrastructure budgets.

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Suicide at Flagler WJAX-TV/WFOX-TV Tenikka Smith Hughes, Anchor/Reporter (with Paige Kelton, Special Projects Manager; Joel Lotz, Photojournalist) 2014 Investigative (large)

Our investigation centered around a young father that committed suicide at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Florida. He was admitted to the hospital after attempting suicide and was transferred to the hospital's Behavioral Health Unit, under routine suicide precautions which included 15 minute checks. Action News obtained documentation of the hospital's internal review of the night the patient committed suicide, detailing that staff did not follow policy. The documentation showed the 15 minute checks were not done for an extended period of time, and that documentation listing times the checks were done was inaccurate. According to the documents, there was a more than 6 hour window from the time the patient was last checked - to the time he was found dead, hanging from a bed sheet on the bathroom door in his room. The documentation also revealed as a result of the incident, the hospital was in the process taking various corrective actions. I made multiple requests for documentation and interviews about the incident with Flagler Hospital. A hospital spokesperson told me due to federal privacy laws staff could not confirm if a person is or ever was a patient in its Behavioral Health Unit. I also asked for an on camera interview to learn more about protocols or corrective measures in the Behavioral Health Unit but was denied. The hospital would only issue a statement. I was able to speak with the patient's father, who expressed sadness and frustration about his son's death and wanted the hospital to be held accountable. I also had a licensed psychologist (not affiliated with the hospital or case) to review the redacted documents and offer an expert opinion on the incident as well. During my investigation, I learned that state and federal health agencies are also investigating the incident at Flagler Hospital. Those investigations were still ongoing when my story aired.

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Culture of Fear KMSP-Minneapolis/St. Paul Jeff Baillon and Tyler Ryan 2014 Investigative (large)


Place: Second Place

This yearlong series of investigative reports uncovers disturbing details of a horrific suicide and two murders surrounding psychiatric research at the University of Minnesota. A hospital insider came forward with secret recordings which portray a "culture of fear" and a "research at all costs" attitude in which the wellbeing of extremely vulnerable patients takes a back seat to having them participate in drug trials.

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How safe are vigorous neck manipulations done by chiropractors? freelance Susan Berger, reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

"An investigation into chiropractic neck manipulation and how it can lead to stroke by tearing the vertebral arteries in the neck. Most chiropractors are not required to have patients sign informed consent forms. Chiropractors say this injury is rare but I interviewed many people disabled after a neck manipulation and the parents of a young man who died shortly after the procedure. It was clear to me the public has little knowledge of this risk and yet neurologists told me they see this all the time. In fact, when a young person goes to the ER with stroke symptoms, one of the first questions asked is "Did you go to a chiropractor?"

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Tapping into Controversial Back Surgeries CBS News Ben Eisler, Investigative Producer (with Mark Strassmann, Correspondent; Chris Licht, Executive Producer) 2014 Investigative (large)

Spinal fusion is one of the most common surgeries in America. There are now more of these procedures performed each year than even hip replacements. But there are concerns that some doctors are performing fusions that are unnecessary and even dangerous. The procedure joins two or more adjacent vertebrae, often with metal rods and screws, and can result in paralysis or life-threatening complications. For decades, patients have had no insight into how likely their doctor is to recommend a spinal fusion, or whether they may be performing risky procedures that others would not consider appropriate. They had no way of knowing how many spinal fusions their doctor performed over a given period, what percentage of patients they performed the procedure on, or how those numbers compared to their peers. This story made much of that information public for the first time. For this six month investigation, we obtained a database of previously unreleased government records. It showed how many spinal fusions each surgeon in the country performed on Medicare patients, under the billing codes most commonly used for “degenerative” conditions like simple back pain. Experts said this is where the vast majority of unnecessary fusions occur. We analyzed the data and found that some doctors performed more than ten times the national average of these fusions. Overall, 5% of the surgeons performed 40% of the fusions on four or more vertebrae – which are riskier for the patient but more lucrative for the surgeon. We also investigated outliers in the data, like Dr. David McCord of Nashville, Tennessee. He performed fusions on a higher percentage of his patients than almost any surgeon in the country. A confidential report showed he was also permanently banned from operating at one hospital in 2012, after a review found he was performing unnecessary spine surgeries. In the late 1990s, the same hospital forced Dr. McCord to limit his number of surgeries and get second opinions before operating. Dr. Omar Jimenez of Scottsbluff, Nebraska performed the third most spinal fusions nationwide. A confidential report showed that in 2006, he was suspended indefinitely by a network of five hospitals in Georgia, due to concerns about his procedure selection. Dr. Jimenez settled two malpractice suits in Georgia for a total of more than $1.3 million, according to the state's medical board. Dr. Richard Hynes of Melbourne, Florida performed the third most fusions on four or more vertebrae in the country. He was dropped by a private health insurer from its coverage network in 2006 after it determined that he was too aggressive with treatment. From 2005-2012, five payments were made to former patients of Dr. Hynes by his malpractice insurance company totaling more than half a million dollars. Three of the cases challenged the necessity of the spinal procedures performed by Dr. Hynes. Dr. Mathew Alexander of Corpus Christi, Texas performed the sixth most fusions on four or more vertebrae in the country. He fused six vertebrae and the skull of one woman, and now her head is permanently stuck in a crooked position, looking down and off to the right. She is suing him for allegedly performing a far more invasive surgery than necessary. In addition to our broad analysis and investigations of individual outliers, we put the database online, made it easily searchable by patients, and provided guidance from experts on how to interpret it.

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Untreated: How Ignoring Mental Illness Costs Us All Rocky Mountain PBS I-News Kristin Jones, Health care reporter (with Joe Mahoney, Photographer/Videographer/Web producer) 2014 Investigative (large)

This three-part series by Kristin Jones and Joe Mahoney of Rocky Mountain PBS I-News in Denver examined the state of behavioral health care in Colorado. The findings of this investigation are not promising. The costs of untreated mental illnesses run into the billions of dollars each year, factoring in medical expenses, lost wages, disability payments, and the price of housing the mentally ill in county jails and state prisons, among other quantifiable factors. As big as the financial costs of untreated mental illness can be, the personal ones are much greater. In Colorado, people with mental illnesses are more than five times as likely to wind up in jail or prison than in a hospital treatment bed, the I-News investigation showed.

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Trial and Error Freelance Jill Neimark, writer 2014 Investigative (large)

A deeply reported story on cell line contamination in cancer research. Across all fields of cancer research, up to a third of cell lines have been identified as imposoters--contaminated and overtaken by other cell lines, and thus unfit for research. There are about 10,000 citations every year on false lines. The problem hjas been known for over half a century, yet most scientists today still don't bother to test their lines, to see if they are valid. This is in spite of the fact that testing is now cheap and reliable. Cell lines are fundamental for cancer research, to understand how certain cancers develop, what mutations are involved, and what drugs might treat them. There is no cancer drug in current use that wasn't first tested in a cell line. I go into the detailed story of what happened in the thyroid field, where 17 of 40 widely used lines were discovered to be false; how a normal endometrial cell line turned out to be breast cancer, and more. The importance of this piece is that scientists are NOT validating their lines, and the NIH is NOT requiring it for grants.

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Why Are Dope-Addicted, Disgraced Doctors Running Our Drug Trials? freelance Peter Aldhous, reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

The doctors who run clinical trials of experimental drugs and devices have one of the most ethically sensitive jobs in health care. They are guiding patients into unknown territory, away from the established standards of care, to test treatments that may or may not work, and may have unexpected side effects. One would hope that those recruited would be at the very top of their profession. But by cross-referencing the Food and Drug Administration's (incomplete) records of clinical investigators against records of medical discipline in the four largest states, I found dozens of doctors selected to work on clinical trials over the past five years who had previously been censured for problems with patient care. Some had made mistakes that left patients dead or maimed; others were themselves addicted to narcotics. Through some disturbing examples, the article explored the how the minimal screening employed by some drug companies and clinical trials firms, including some of the largest in the business, allows doctors with such records to be hired.

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Kidney Failure Among Sugar Cane Workers in Central America NPR Jason Beaubien, correspondent 2014 Investigative (large)

A mysterious form of kidney disease is killing agricultural workers along the Pacific Coast of Central America. The disease is hitting sugar cane workers particularly hard, at times killing men in their 20's. Researchers are still struggling to figure out what's causing the condition.

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Breathless Dateline NBC Izhar Harpaz, Producer (with Marjorie McAfee, Co-Producer; Terrell Tangonan, Co-Producer) 2014 Investigative (large)

BREATHLESS was the culmination of almost two years of original research and undercover investigation into the national children’s asthma crisis. Specifically we examined the interior environments in low-income public and private housing that are a major contributor to children’s asthma in New York. We followed numerous families for over a year but finally focused our story on two. Rossana de la Cuadra of Brownsville, Brooklyn has a 6-year old daughter, Amanda, who had just been diagnosed with asthma. Javier Sepuvelda, a military veteran, living in East Harlem also has a daughter suffering from asthma. Both were articulate and hard-working parents who gave us extraordinary access to their lives, the struggles of their asthmatic children, and their fight to make their apartments asthma-safe for them. What was most revealing was what happened in real time as we followed their journeys. Because they had allowed us to place undercover cameras in their homes, we observed some extraordinary and never-before-captured footage; work crew after work crew either unwilling or incapable of fixing the problem. All this might almost be expected from unscrupulous private landlords, but BREATHLESS exposed a surprising culprit: not a private slum lord, but the New York City Housing Authority, the largest public housing agency in North America.

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Buck Fever: Trophy deer industry linked to disease, costs taxpayers millions Indianapolis Star Ryan Sabalow, Investigative reporter (with Robert Scheer, Photojournalist; Steve Berta, Investigations editor) 2014 Investigative (large)

An 18-month investigation into the little known captive-deer industry. The investigation revealed that the $1 billion industry contributes to the spread of wildlife diseases, undermines the government’s multibillion-dollar efforts to protect the food supply, costs taxpayers millions and potentially compromises public health.

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Indianapolis Star: Pets at Risk The Indianapolis Star John Russell, Reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

This series examined the fast-growing, secretive world of pet medicines -- how they are riskier, cheaper and quicker to develop than human medicines, and how some pharmaceutical companies are moving aggressively into this specialized, under-regulated world to cushion the blow of declining revenues from human medicines. What we found: Unlike the world of human medicine, which has undergone numerous reforms in the past decade to provide for greater transparency and to reduce conflicts, we found that veterinarians, researchers and drug companies are free to work closely together, with little to no disclosure of gifts, grants and fees. We found that pet medicines offer a higher risk of unforeseen side effects than human medicines. We found a legal arena that offers little protection to pet owners, and marketing tactics that have been eliminated from the human drug market.

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Investigation of a Community Health Center Alabama Media Group Mike Gill Oliver, Reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

The 1,300 community health centers across the U.S. have been hailed as the backbone of the Affordable Care Act’s plan to leave no one without health care. For decades the, federally funded centers have served the poor, the uninsured and the homeless. The Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, gave the centers an infusion of dollars: $11 billion over five years. That’s a lot of money to accomplish a lot of good. It’s also a lot of money to tempt those with larcenous intent. Two years ago, Alabama Media Group discovered that two community health centers -- Birmingham Health Care and Central Alabama Comprehensive Health -- had paid more than $2 million for contracts to companies owned by the centers’ CEO. We also reported that the CEO and some other executive employees had formed a company and bought Birmingham Health Care’s main building, then rented it back to the health center. In 2014, we focused on one particular contract to show how the federal grant money intended for the poor was being siphoned off. We reported that the two community health centers had received a combined $660,000 in 2009 to buy emergency disaster kits to be distributed to the poor. A federal report labeled the kits, provided by the private company of the health centers’ CEO, “grossly overpriced.” Even more alarming, the kits were still sitting in a Birmingham warehouse during an April 2011 tornado rampage when they might have been useful. In November and December 2014, a federal grand jury indicted three people connected with Birmingham Health Care. The indictments outline a 97-counts fraud scheme that allegedly diverted $14 million in federal funding to private hands. The CEO has not been charged. But he was implicated in one of the indictments. The grand jury continues to hear evidence.

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Drugging Our Kids San Jose Mercury News Karen Sophie de Sa, Investigative reporter (with Dai Sugano, Photojournalist) 2014 Investigative (large)

The five-part series “Drugging Our Kids” combined exclusive data analysis, powerful narratives, interactive online graphics, poignant photos and a striking 40-minute documentary video to uncover how foster care providers are relying on a risky but convenient remedy to control the behavior of thousands of troubled kids: numbing them with drugs that are untested on and often not approved for children. The series also revealed the high cost to California taxpayers, who spent more on psychotropic drugs over the past decade than on drugs of any other type for foster children. To promote the drugs in the nation’s largest child welfare system, pharmaceutical companies wooed foster care prescribers with millions of dollars in payments for speaking, meals, travel, consulting and company-sponsored research - spending almost four times more on these doctors than the typical California doctor.

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Pleasure in a Pill? Freelance Virginia Sole-Smith, Writer 2014 Investigative (large)

In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the male sex drug marketed as Viagra. In its first week on the market, almost 40,000 prescriptions were written. Now men have six drugs available for sexual issues. Sixteen years and billions of dollars in research and development later, there are still no drugs available for the estimated 14 million U.S. women who struggle with a low sex drive. Multiple medications have made it to research trials, but none have ended up on pharmacy shelves. In her incisive, insightful investigation, “Pleasure in a Pill?” Virginia Sole-Smith looks at the complicated history behind this oversight. Why have these drugs languished for years? Is it, as some critics have claimed, sexism on the part of the FDA? Or is female sexuality too complex to be treated by medication alone? The story brings an issue to the cultural forefront that isn’t discussed in the media—or, in fact, in many intimate relationships. With in-depth reporting about the machinations of the pharmaceutical industry— aiming to pressure Big Pharma and the FDA to reexamine their clinical trials and approval processes—and artful storytelling about the drug research trial participants, Sole-Smith clearly points to the need for more sexual health options for women. She also gives us an inside look at the different forces on the front lines working to equalize women’s sexuality in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Although the piece is an investigative look at why women don’t have parity in the sexual health field—and suggests that some women would be better off with medications at their disposal—the most pressing takeaway from “Pleasure in a Pill?” is that medication might not be the answer for every woman, or even most women. Women who struggle with their sex drives find themselves between a rock and a hard place. In long-term relationships, sexual availability is expected, yet many women feel stymied by the cultural expectations placed on them around sex. The drug industry is aware of this conundrum and capitalizes on it, co-opting feminist rhetoric in its campaign for a female Viagra equivalent. If such a drug can be successfully made—and right now it’s far from clear that one can—it has the potential to dramatically shift how women navigate sexual relationships. But Sole-Smith’s reporting shows that there are no silver bullets: perhaps the best thing we can do for women is to reexamine the complexities of female sexuality and decrease the numerous taboos surrounding it.

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Drug approval investigation Milwaukee Journal Sentinel John Fauber, reporter (with Elbert Chu, MedPage Today, Coulter Jones, MedPage Today) 2014 Investigative (large)

These stories examined how the FDA approved cancer and diabetes drugs over the last decade. It found that in 74% of cancer drug approvals and all diabetes drug approvals, the decision to allow the drugs on the market was based on surrogate measures of effectiveness such CT scans or blood tests rather than real clinical outcomes such as improved survival or reductions in heart attacks, strokes or blindness. Other major findings: ? Some cancer drugs were allowed to remain on the market for years without drug companies providing proof of improved survival and despite evidence that the drugs caused serious side effects and, on average, cost about $10,000 a month. ? Some newer diabetes drugs were linked to a disproportionate number of deaths and hospitalizations. ? Conflicts of interest were common, including at the FDA, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually from drug companies in exchange for making speedy drug approval decisions. The conflicts also included medical societies and doctors who received millions of dollars from drug companies while changing the definition of diabetes and pre-diabetes so that tens of millions more Americans would be candidates for drug therapy.

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Texas Tribune: Dental Drama The Texas Tribune Becca Aaronson, News Apps Producer 2014 Investigative (large)

For nearly five years, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP), a subsidiary of Xerox, allowed workers with limited expertise to approve dental claims for Texas’ Medicaid program, the joint state-federal insurer. State spending on orthodontic services spiraled out of control: Between 2003 and 2010, Texas Medicaid payments for orthodontic services grew by more than 3,000 percent — from $6.5 million to $220.5 million — while program enrollment only grew 33 percent. By 2012, federal and state auditors found that the contractor’s actions had opened the door to a “massive Medicaid fraud scheme” that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. This investigation found that three years later, the state’s aggressive campaign to recover misspent Medicaid dollars had failed to prove any dental providers intentionally committed fraud. Meanwhile, the state maintained its contract with TMHP, and continued to pay the company between $168 and $185 million annually to continue processing certain Texas Medicaid claims. A week after the publication of our series, the Texas Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against Xerox, and canceled the contract with its subsidiary, TMHP.

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Science Squeeze: Funding for Biomedicine National Public Radio Richard Harris, Correspondent (with Robert Benincasa, Producer, Investigations Unit, ) 2014 Investigative (large)

These stories examined the struggles that biomedical researchers face, in light of roller-coaster funding. We looked at how the funding crunch is affecting postdoctoral researchers hoping for a career in science; scientists themselves; and universities. We also looked at how this is hurting patients in clinical trials, as scientists cut corners in part because of the extreme competitive nature of biomedical science, which is driven in part by the scramble for research dollars.

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Harsh Treatment Chicago Tribune David Jackson, Gary Marx and Duaa Eldeib 2014 Investigative (large)


Place: Third Place

They are mostly African-American kids, forgotten and discarded – state wards who have suffered abuse and neglect. Illinois officials send them by the thousands to live in residential treatment centers promising skilled therapy and close supervision. These taxpayer-financed institutions boast of restoring and even saving young lives. But the horrific conditions inside were hidden from the public and even many government regulators until a yearlong Chicago Tribune investigation used confidential documents and sensitive interviews with youths to pierce the secrecy that surrounds the most troubled facilities. "Harsh Treatment" revealed assaults, rapes, prostitution, drug use and kids lost to the streets.

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Oversight of doctors in Georgia Atlanta Journal-Constitution Danny Robbins, Reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

A series of investigative stories looking at how the Georgia Composite Medical Board regulates doctors in the state found that the board has failed to disclose crucial information to the public, licensed physicians that other states deemed untouchable and funneled some of the worst physicians into the state prison system.

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Loaded with Lead The Seattle Times Christine Willmsen, staff reporter (with Lewis Kamb, staff reporter; Justin Mayo, staff reporter) 2014 Investigative (large)

“Loaded with Lead” is a three-part investigation examining lead hazards at shooting ranges nationwide. Based on tens of thousands of pages of public records and scores of interviews, the investigation found that toxic lead exposure is a widespread problem pervading most of the nation’s 10,000 gun ranges at a time when shooting sports now reach 40 million recreational shooters annually. The series’ key findings included that thousands of people have been over-exposed to lead at gun ranges; reckless shooting-range owners have repeatedly violated workplace-safety laws with little regard for sickened workers; and state and federal regulators are failing to ensure that gun ranges are safe.

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Crumb Rubber NBC News Kevin Monahan, Producer (with Stephanie Gosk, Correspondent; Hannah Rappleye, Reporter) 2014 Investigative (large)

A five-part NBC News investigation asked if crumb rubber, the recycled-tire surface used on thousands of U.S. playgrounds and sports fields, posed a health risk to kids, spurring the EPA to drop its public assurances that the surface was safe, prompting a congressman to demand a new federal study, and causing a half dozen local governments to rethink their choice of playing fields. Five stories aired on “Nightly News” and the “Today” show in 2014, all accompanied by on-line text articles.

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Doctor licenses The Baltimore Sun Scott Dance, Science and weather reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

When a doctor was accused of sexual assault, The Baltimore Sun revealed that he had previously served a prison sentence for rape, unbeknownst to a state licensing body. The revelations prompted a state investigation, and subsequent stories explored how the doctor’s criminal record went unnoticed despite multiple layers of oversight by regulatory and licensing boards – including because Maryland does not conduct background checks of physicians. Lawmakers have pledged to adopt a doctor background check policy in 2015.

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Big Oil, Bad Air InsideClimate News, The Center for Public Integrity, The Weather Channel Staff 2014 Investigative (large)


Place: First Place

Texas lies at the epicenter of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing – fracking – boom. What began in the Barnett Shale of North Texas 15 years ago has spread to the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas and across the United States, to include regions unaccustomed to dealing with the fossil fuel industry. Until early 2014, the national media had paid little attention to the frenzy of drilling in the Eagle Ford, one of the most active shale plays in the world. It seemed the right place for us to explore a little-discussed yet critical aspect of the boom: toxic air emissions associated with wells, compressor stations and processing plants.

In February 2014, InsideClimate News, the Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel published the first installments in what would become a 20-month investigative project: “Big Oil, Bad Air.”

Judges' comments: Amid competitive entries, “Big Oil, Bad Air” stood out for its penetrating reporting, eloquent writing and disturbing findings. Much has been written about contaminated drinking water caused by shale drilling. But this series focused instead on the airborne pollutants that have harmed the health and destroyed the well being of rural families in the vast Eagle Ford region of Texas. The eight-month long investigation found that, with the aid of oil-and-gas-friendly legislators, drilling permits skyrocketed and regulation decreased. As a result, the numerous fracking sites there have emitted ever-more toxic plumes that have sickened the local population.

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Home-care Crisis The Columbus Dispatch Rita Price, Reporter (with Ben Sutherly, Reporter) 2014 Investigative (large)

Our newspaper examined Ohio's preparedness for the shift to in-home care, which is rapidly replacing nursing homes and institutions as the preferred form of long-term care. We documented the industry's tremendous, almost unchecked, growth in central Ohio, and showed how fraud, low wages and scant regulation jeopardize care and waste public health funds. Major findings included: * Since 2003, the home-care industry has grown by 92 percent in Ohio, one of just eight states that don't license home health providers. In Franklin County, the industry has grown by 195 percent during the same period. * Among the nation's top 50 metro areas, central Ohio has the highest number of Medicare-certified home health agencies per person. * While home health care accounts for less than 5 percent of the state's Medicaid spending, it has accounted for more than half of improper Medicaid payments to providers in the state's past three fiscal years. * Questionable billing by home health agencies in Ohio is at least twice as prevalent as the national average, with 18 percent of such businesses submitting bills that federal officials found questionable. * The bulk of care is provided by poorly paid aides with limited training and high rates of turnover, factors repeatedly cited by consumers and researchers as harming care. * Consumers have few reliable ways to evaluate home-care agencies for dependability and high-quality care. Despite the preferences of consumers and a push by the state to save money on institutional care, Ohio still collects and disseminates far more information on nursing homes.

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'Staggering' Pain Claims in Brooklyn stoke suspicion USA TODAY Jayne O'Donnell, Reporter (with Meghan Hoyer, Data Journalist) 2014 Investigative (large)

A USA TODAY analysis revealed that some of Medicare's top-earning specialists are in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, and that they share thousands of patients in volumes much higher than the norm. In hundreds of cases, patients saw multiple pain specialists on the same day, shuffling between therapists who billed Medicare for tens of thousands of procedures. The analysis found that six practitioners in Brooklyn all regularly saw the same patients, often treating each person dozens of times. Medicare paid the six a total of nearly $15 million in 2012.

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Why is Staten Island New York City's OD Capital? WNYC's Radio Rookies Courtney Stein, Producer (with Tasina Berkey, Radio Rookie; Kaari Pitkin, Editor) 2014 Investigative (large)

In New York City, the prescription painkiller abuse rates aren't as high as the rest of the country — except on Staten Island, where their impact is wide and deep. The city's Health Department says three times more people overdose from painkillers there than in the rest of the city. WNYC's youth media project Radio Rookies decided to take on an investigative reporting project to look at why Staten Island is struggling with prescription drug abuse. Producer Courtney Stein spent several months training then 18-year-old Tasina Berkey in how to interview, write narration, do research, and seek out government data. Their investigative report shows it's easy for young people on Staten Island to gain access to prescription painkillers and that, combined with a long-time culture of drug and alcohol abuse, has led to the epidemic. After the story aired, the piece was sited in several other news outlets, including The New York Times.

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Ebola Crisis: Unprepared in Dallas The Dallas Morning News Dallas Morning News Staff STAFF STAFF, Staff Writers 2014 Investigative (large)

For months in the summer of 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had warned the country’s health-care community that an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Western Africa could make its way here. The feds assured the public that America’s modern medical resources and infrastructure could avert a crisis. We were told hospitals had prepared and trained their staffs, using CDC guidelines, to address a virus they had never seen. Yet in late September, when a Liberian man named Thomas Eric Duncan walked into a Dallas emergency room with fever, headache and abdominal pains, his doctor and nurses found him unremarkable – just another of the night’s many victims of mishap and contagion. He was sent away after a few hours with antibiotics. None of the caregivers realized the encounter would soon become part of U.S. medical history. Duncan returned to the ER in an ambulance days later, far sicker than before. Tests soon revealed his true condition was Ebola, the first diagnosis of the virus on American soil. It triggered a national health scare that worsened when two of his nurses were stricken. In first announcing the diagnosis Sept. 30, officials at Dallas’ Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had extolled their readiness. They told a room of reporters the hospital staff had been “meeting literally for weeks in anticipation of such an event.” But clues began appearing in subsequent days that Presbyterian, and perhaps others, had bungled the response. Officials acknowledged they had previously treated and released Duncan, and that a nurse indeed knew he had come from an Ebola-afflicted nation. Officials also issued other shifting, incomplete explanations for the misdiagnosis. Because of these questions about the Ebola response and misdiagnosis, the newspaper’s editors mobilized investigative and enterprise reporters to work on the rolling Ebola investigation. This series identified problems at Presbyterian’s ER, failures by government agencies in Dallas and beyond, and unearthed the grim reality that the U.S. had not benefitted from all of the lessons learned in Africa’s Ebola outbreaks. Among the findings: • Presbyterian had ER wait times twice as long as state and national averages, and been penalized by the federal government for patient readmissions. That suggested, experts said, the ER could have been operating understaffed or with an inefficient system for handling patients, setting the stage for someone like Duncan to slip through. • State and local officials waited more than two days to test Duncan’s blood, in apparent violation of federal guidelines. That delay meant health officials were slowed in identifying and isolating others who may have been exposed. • Days after Duncan’s Ebola diagnosis, the hospital faulted its electronic health records systems for keeping his physician from discovering his travel in an Ebola-afflicted country. The News found that similar systems have been repeatedly cited for delays in treatment, dosage mistakes and failures to detect fatal illnesses across the nation. • Weeks after the first Ebola diagnosis, The News found that the Dallas County health department’s guidelines for screening possible Ebola patients still had a hole that could let others like Duncan go undetected. By contrast, federal guidelines called for more scrutiny during screenings. • Despite government assurances that the U.S. health system was equipped to handle Ebola, The News documented similarities between m

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34 hours Winnipeg Free Press Kevin Rollason, Reporter 2014 Investigative (large)

Brian Sinclair needed basic health care on a September weekend in 2008. The aboriginal man, a double amputee, sat in his wheelchair in an ER for 34 hours, waiting to have his blocked urinary catheter changed while staff ignored him. Brian Sinclair wasn’t given the care he needed, and he died because of that. Mr. Sinclair lapsed into unconsciousness in his wheelchair and died in the waiting room of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre. He may have been dead up to seven hours before staff noticed – doctors attempted to resuscitate him before discovering rigor mortis was already setting in. This despite the pleas of other patients in the emergency ward waiting room who told hospital staff that an obviously ill Mr. Sinclair needed care. They were basically told to mind their own business. How many patients were seen while Mr. Sinclair sickened and died? That was one of the most important questions that needed to be answered at the inquest into what happened to Mr. Sinclair. But I was the only reporter to delve into it. Over the many months of hearings, I helped the public understand the issues of bed shortages, clogged emergency rooms and hospital wards, problems with the design and layout of the ER waiting room, what role racism played in Mr. Sinclair’s death and what the hospital and the regional health authority have done to ensure a death like his never happens again. But it was my story about the nearly 200 patients who were treated while a disabled, aboriginal man was not, that provided answers other media outlets did not. The document containing that information was mentioned in the hearing, and I was surprised to find myself the only reporter to ask for a copy, take the time to pore over it and unravel questions about other ER patients’ care. I figured out when 199 of them arrived and departed, what their health problem was, how serious a case the triage team deemed them, among other details. I also supplied information for a map of the ER waiting room, marked with the positions of key witnesses. This helped make Mr. Sinclair’s situation clearer to readers. My story proved that while Mr. Sinclair was ignored to death, many other patients around him received the care they needed. It forced regional health authority officials to admit that racism does exist in Manitoba’s health care system, although they stopped short of admitting it killed Mr. Sinclair. The Winnipeg Free Press – despite struggling with staff reductions as most media outlets are – committed to covering the inquest daily. The hearings were spread across several months, starting in 2013. I covered them from beginning to end, tweeting a couple of dozen times each day, filing several short stories to our website throughout the day before writing a full story for next day’s paper. We later learned how truly valuable to the medical profession my tweets and online stories were. Health care professionals and organizations across the country reported they followed the coverage on our website and in the twitterverse. In fact, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians honoured me with their 2014 CAEP Award for Medical Journalism for my earlier work on the inquest, despite the fact I hadn’t even entered the work in the competition.

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Death Behind Bars Global News Anna Mehler Paperny, Senior Producer, Investigative Data Desk (with Leslie Young, Investigative Data Journalist) 2014 Investigative (large)

"A Global News investigation revealed that Canada's "psychiatric prisons," home to the penal system's sickest, most vulnerable inmates, have the highest death and assault rates of any federal prisons. Designed, theoretically, to provide special care for Canada's growing population of inmates with severe mental illness, these prisons have become little more than warehouses for extremely ill offenders: They're kept in solitary confinement despite overwhelming evidence against it, and, Global News discovered, even so-called "intensive psychiatric care" is little more than segregation by any other name. After refusing to speak with us about this for months, Canada's Public Safety Minister announced a pilot project for two women inmates with mental illness in a groundbreaking facility specially designed for their care and rehabilitation. Global News also reported that, six months later, that pilot project had yet to materialize."

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Namenda CBS News Amy Jean Birnbaum, Producer (with Dr. Jonathan LaPook, Correspondent; Deborah Rubin, Producer) 2014 Investigative (large)

We examine tactics used by a pharmaceutical company to maintain its monopoly on medication. They do this by forcing patients to switch from a formulation about to lose patent protection to another that has years left on patent. We expose the problem in the first piece and in the second piece we report exclusively on a lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General against the company that makes Namenda. In it we included audio of the CEO describing how a forced switch would allow them to hold onto their base users and keep profits from falling off a cliff. In the third piece we report on a ruling agreeing to an injunction which will keep the original Namenda on pharmacy shelves, allowing our viewers to know the outcome of an issue we first exposed.

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Directories of Doctors Who Treat the Poor Are Inaccurate, Hurting Access California Health Report Hannah Guzik, Reporter (with Claudia Boyd-Barrett, Contributor/Researcher; Angela Woodall, Contributor/Researcher) 2014 Investigative (small)

This investigative story reported that the directories of doctors given to low-income patients across California are highly inaccurate, making it difficult for them to get the health care they’re entitled to under state law. More than half of the primary-care doctors in provider directories given to low-income patients in three counties in Northern, Central and Southern California were not accepting new patients with Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health plan, or could not be reached by telephone. The accuracy of the physician directories is important because consumers searching for a doctor need to be able to find one, a task already difficult because so few doctors accept Medi-Cal patients. Also, insurers are required under state law to provide accurate reports of the doctors in their networks, to ensure that there are physicians to meet the demand. This story was particularly important this year, as California expanded Medicaid and the number of people enrolled in that program swelled. At the time we published this story, about 10.6 million people — more than a quarter of the state’s population — were enrolled in Medi-Cal.

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Killers & Pain The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal Mary Beth Pfeiffer 2014 Investigative (small)


Place: Second Place

Mary Beth Pfeiffer explored and exposed a painkiller abuse epidemic whose devastation cannot be understated: 22,000 American lives lost in 2012 in overdoses from prescribed drugs like oxycodone. While the story has been told before, Pfeiffer broke new ground. She laid blame on doctors and on New York's prime agency that regulated them; called officials to account for a law that sent users flocking to heroin; and, importantly, humanized an epidemic that has ravaged communities served by the Poughkeepsie Journal.

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Long ER Stays For Kids in Crisis On The Rise freelance Conn. Health I-Team Lisa Chedekel, reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

Lisa put a spotlight on a little known crisis in Connecticut: hundreds of children with mental health issues have spent multiple nights in hospital emergency departments because they have no other place to go for treatment. She reported that these children were projected to spend more than 3,000 nights in the ED in 2014 – some children staying as many as 10 nights in the ED, receiving no treatment, just monitoring. She found hospitals were overwhelmed and ‘’busting at the seams’’ with the number of children seeking treatment for mental health issues. In 2010, only 40 children had long stays in the emergency department compared to 250 in the first six months of 2014. The situation is compounded by the fact that the state is experiencing an acute shortage of inpatient and outpatient programs and, at the same time, has set goals to reduce the length of stays in residential treatment centers while not adequately providing the services to support the policy shift to home-based care.

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State Restrains Psychiatric Patients At High Rate freelance Conn. Health I-Team Lisa Chedekel, reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

Years after Connecticut lawmakers ordered policy changes in the use of restraints for psychiatric patients, the state’s hospitals still restrain patients at double the average national rate, Lisa Chedekel reported in May. Analyzing federal data, Lisa found that Connecticut: • Ranked in the top fourth of states in the use of physical restraints in inpatient psychiatric facilities. • Ranked third highest in restraining patients 65 and older. • Lagged behind other states in providing adequate post-discharge care plans for psychiatric patients, especially teens and the elderly. Patient and health care advocates raised concerns that the progress made to minimize the use of restraints in the early 2000s was beginning to erode.

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Dental Dangers The Bakersfield Californian Rachel Leigh Cook, Health Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

This series dug into the painful allegations of dental negligence against Bakersfield dentist Robert Tupac — both in civil lawsuits and an accusation filed against him by the California Dental Board, the state agency responsible for disciplining dentists. The story broke in January 2013 when the Dental Board’s accusations came to light, including an eight-hour surgery performed without general anesthesia, crumbling dental work, drooling and bone loss. The reporting for this investigative series uncovered a host of other problems, including more than a dozen civil suits against Tupac scattered among three counties dating back three decades. Concurrently, the series reported on just how difficult it is for California consumers to discern whether their dentist has a history of malpractice allegations. Outdated databases, opaque regulations and limited public records present almost impenetrable roadblocks for consumers. The series showed how the Dental Board investigates claims of dental neglect, and highlighted that how dentists disciplined by the board are not required to notify their patients that they’ve been reprimanded. And as part of the series’ groundwork, reporters chronicled adjudication of the state Attorney General Office's case against Tupac through an administrative law hearing covering parts of two calendar years. The series provided readers with valuable tools to use when choosing dentists, while listing available legal and dental resources for consumers.

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"Where Does the Real Truth "Lie'?" Freelance Diana Klebanow, Writer 2014 Investigative (small)

It is a story of an 18 year-old girl who entered New York Hospital on March 4, 1984, accompanied by her parents. According to her father, she had an earache and a fever. Eight hours later she was dead, and her father blamed the hospital and her doctors for her death. A prominent journalist, he fed the story to the media, which accepted his version of her death. He failed to tell them that his daughter was on cocaine. The correct version of the details leading to her death has not been published until my article appeared.

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Big Pharma Plays Hide-the-Ball With Data Freelance/Newsweek Ben Wolford, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

Recent revelations of hidden data have bolstered a growing movement against what’s referred to within the research community as “publication bias,” in which scientists squirrel away mostly negative or inconclusive findings and broadcast only their positive ones. Concealing trial data—for which patients accept the risks of untested treatments for the greater good—is routine. As many as half of all clinical trials are never published, and the consequences of exclusion or delay of trial data have ranged from frustration to mass fatalities.

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Health Care The Morning Call Tim Darragh, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

Tim Darragh’s beat involves the business of health care (see hospital security challenge), health-care policies (see tobacco settlement), health issues (hip surgery risk) and diseases (new virus spreads). Stories were chosen to reflect the beat’s range and Darragh’s dexterity and knowledge for covering that range. He was the first to find and report that Pennsylvania’s tobacco money settlement, and the funding for uncompensated hospital care that it covered, were in jeopardy. Darragh was the only Pennsylvania reporter to recognize the significance in the routine court story. He knew when the Pennsylvania’s $330 million tobacco settlement was challenged, the result could devastate the fund set up to help hospitals pay for charity cases. Since that fact wasn’t spelled out in the lawsuit, most reporters had no idea what was at stake. For the hospital security story, Darragh was able, through much effort, to get the hospitals to provide policy and procedure information. The local hospitals are not covered under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law, so Darragh had to compel the hospitals to cooperate. The story benefits from their responses, as well as information Darragh found through the Pennsylvania Health Safety Authority and the state Department of Health. Through his research, he found that it’s rare for people to leave hospitals without permission and that the death at St. Luke’s Hospital was tied to a policy breach. Darragh’s attention to the monthly state Health Department reports often reap benefits, as was the case with the hip surgery story. When a death at a local hospital was attributed to “Bone Cement Implantation Syndrome,” Darragh pursued a deeper story, found a US Food and Drug Administration database of such deaths and constructed a strong explanatory piece on the risk posed by certain bone glues. The story would nudge readers to discuss the issue with their doctors when considering hip replacements. As a good beat reporter, Darragh is always on the lookout for new and recurring viruses. So when he heard about chikungunya from the West Nile making an appearance on the East Coast, he called the state Department of Health and found four suspected cases in our area. His story responsibly alerted readers to an infectious disease in their midst.

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Too Risky to Transplant The Bend (Ore.) Bulletin Markian Hawryluk 2014 Investigative (small)


Place: Third Place

A change in Medicare conditions of participation for organ transplant program to evaluate centers based on their one-year survival rates has prompted centers to reject riskier transplant candidates and to discard less-than-perfect organs that could be used to save lives. Transplant rates in the U.S. have plateaued as a result of the change.

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Body of work - Kristian Foden-Vencil Oregon Public Broadcasting Kristian Edwin Foden-Vencil, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

1 - Shortage of Medical Interpreters - July 10th 2014 The Affordable Care Act calls for the use of certified medical interpreters -- for patients who aren't fluent in English. Inaccurate translations have caused serious medical problems in the past -- even death. Oregon started requiring the use of certified medical interpreters 13 years ago, but my story showed that patients in Oregon still only have a 3 percent chance of getting one. There aren't enough interpreters being trained because they're not paid well; the lifestyle of driving from one hospital to another isn't appealing; and the contractual structure of the position makes it unappealing. 2 - The Good Behavior Game - Coordinated Care Organizations around Oregon are experimenting with some interesting ideas to reduce smoking, obesity and other health problems. This example tells how the local CCO is paying for a school district to play 'The Good Behavior Game.' The idea is that teaching kindergarteners how to behave in class will result in healthier students decades later. A study by the 'Coalition for Evidence Based Policy' found that by age 13, the game reduced the number of kids who started to smoke by 26 percent, and reduced the number of kids who started to take hard drugs by more than half. 3 - Healing Hurt People - A hospital in Portland is having success getting kids out of gangs by reaching out to them at 'the golden moment.' That moment is just after they have been shot. The program works by sending a counselor to the person's bedside to talk about ways of getting out of the gang lifestyle at precisely the moment the gang member might be considering a change. 4 - Drug Discount Policy Changes - Federal law requires drug companies give deep discounts to hospitals that deal with a lot of uninsured patients. It's called the 340-B program. But the program has grown exponentially and drug manufacturers now say hospitals are selling many of those drugs at higher prices to make money. Hospitals say they need the money to pay for the clinics and doctors who hand out that cheaper medicine. The US Health Resources and Services Administration is looking into the issue.

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How Sacramento turns at-risk kids into criminals Sacramento News & Review Raheem F. Hosseini, Staff Writer 2014 Investigative (small)

Originally conceived as way stations for delinquents, California's juvenile halls have transformed into long-term commitment facilities for the mentally ill.

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ProPublica: National Quality Forum ProPublica Marshall Allen, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

These stories were all related to conflicts of interest in the world of patient safety, and the work led to direct results. The National Quality Forum, which sets patient safety standards that are adopted throughout the health care industry, tried to brush past the fact that the chairman of one of its most prominent committees had been accused by the U.S. Justice Department of taking $11.6 million in kickbacks from a drug company. The NQF put out statements that said none of its standards were compromised by the alleged kickbacks, and those statements were widely reported by other media outlets. I decided to check and see whether the committee chairman, Dr. Chuck Denham, may have actually tried to exert some influence on behalf of the drug company that had been quietly paying him. The resulting story, “Hidden Financial Ties Rattle Top Health Quality Group,” revealed that he had. Transcripts of NQF committee meetings showed Denham lobbying to include specific standards in the recommendations that would benefit the company that was paying him. I spoke to other members of the committee and they said that this was not supposed to be the case. And the final recommendations made by the NQF included an endorsement of the company’s product. Then I learned that Dr. Christine Cassel, CEO of the NQF, was being paid about $400,000 a year to sit on the board of health care companies that could benefit from the recommendations made by the organization she was running. That resulted in the story, “Payments to CEO Raise New Conflicts at Top Health Quality Group.” The story, “Citing Distraction, Quality Forum CEO Resigns Board Seats,” is about her resigning from those positions. The revelations in my story about Denham led to fallout at the Journal of Patient Safety, which he was editing at the time my story came out. He resigned because of the scandal and the editors who replaced him reviewed his work there and found he had published many articles that favored the company that was paying him millions of dollars. I wrote about it in, “Patient Safety Journal Adjusts After an Eye-Opening Scandal.”

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Whooping Cough Science News Nathan Paul Seppa, reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

The story reveals that the recent outbreaks of whooping cough in the United States and other developed countries are directly traceable to a switch in vaccines made in the 1990s, the consequences of which are becoming clear now as a subset of people choose to delay or skip vaccinating their children.

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Ask Emily CHCF Center for Health Reporting at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Emily Bazar, Senior Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

"Emily aggressively covers the Affordable Care Act in California through a consumers lens, delivered in a bi-weekly column. "Ask Emily" has become the authoritative source for thousands of consumers seeking answers after being caught in the ACA's bewildering bureaucratic snares. The four stories submitted for the contest illustrate her watchdog role: In one column she exposed practices at Covered California--the state insurance exchange--that result in cancellation of people's policies without their knowledge. In another she reported that consumers who call the agency to report changes in their income--as required by the ACA--can see their policies cancelled without explanation. In another she went to bat for people who applied months earlier for Medicaid under the ACA expansion but were still waiting for coverage. And in the fourth column she discovered that many consumers transitioning to Medicare couldn't get out of their Covered California plans and payments. The four stories submitted for consideration are a fraction of Emily's work (a total of 46 columns as of Jan. 16) which consistently exposed problems in the state's Affordable Care Act implementation. Importantly, Emily's columns also provide consumers with specific advice and resources on how, and where, to get help. And they break news. For example, she was the first to write about the exchange cancelling policies and shifting people to Medi-Cal (Aug. 26), which was picked up by AP with credit to her. Her story about Medicare-eligible consumers' inability to cancel Covered California plans (Dec. 2) was an exclusive. She is the only one in California writing about this issue."

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“Missteps and Secrets: Los Alamos Officials Downplayed Waste’s Dangers” The Santa Fe New Mexican Patrick Malone, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

The story exposed a cover-up at Los Alamos National Laboratory involving a troublesome batch of Cold War-era nuclear waste that later caused a radiation leak that exposed workers to radiation at a nuclear waste repository. The lab omitted some of the volatile ingredients contained in the waste drum, and lied about others to avoid delays that stood to endanger private contractors’ $2.2 billion pay day. Public records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act exposed that the lab continued to be secretive about what its staff knew about the dangers of the waste batch, even with personnel at the repository where it posed the greatest risk. When a Los Alamos scientist dared to warn people handling the waste of its dangers, he was reprimanded by the Department of Energy. The public records obtained by The Santa Fe New Mexico exposed for the first time that the waste in the drum that ruptured held the same ingredients as several patented explosives, and that a typographical error in a waste handling manual at Los Alamos might have set the whole series of events in motion. Secrecy is in the fabric of Los Alamos National Laboratory, dating back to its first covert mission to develop the atomic bomb during World War II. And as the lab prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Trinity Test later this year, secrecy still surrounds its activities. Anyone who relies on official statements from the lab will never get enough information to truly inform the public. Add to that the billions of dollars at stake for the contractors that operate the nation’s nuclear sites and their reluctance to say or admit anything that might jeopardize their handsome paydays, and a stone wall separates reporters from the information they need to share the truth with readers. In this case, only FOIA could break down that wall. Refusing to narrow the original FOIA request when at first it yield the standard “burdensome” response, presenting the FOIA to multiple entities holding the records at the Energy Department and putting in strange hours in the interest of cultivating informed sources whose trust wasn’t always easy to gain made this a uniquely challenging assignment.

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Huge Geographic Variation In Premium Prices Kaiser Health News Jordan Rau, senior correspondent (with Lexie Verdon, Senior Editor) 2014 Beat Reporting

We identified the most and least expensive insurance regions in the first year of the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplaces. We discovered that the rates in Colorado Mountain resort counties were higher than anywhere else in the country. We also visited one of the most expensive regions, in rural Georgia, and one of the least expensive, in eastern Tennessee, to show how monopoly pricing power—of a hospital system in Georgia and an insurer in Tennessee—is the major determinant of premium costs.

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"Doctors Banned from Practice Elsewhere Land Jobs with State" The Santa Fe New Mexican Patrick Malone, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

One out of every four waivers nationally to allow doctors and clinics excluded from billing Medicaid for past misdeeds has been granted to the state of New Mexico. The state is a virtual wasteland for care providers because only one of its 33 counties has enough medical options, according to a federal evaluation. Health Department officials say that shortage led them to hire two convicted felons to head regional public health offices, where they supervise and administer care to the most impoverished residents of one of the poorest states in the country. The report also revealed that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has no record of ever rejecting any request from a state to reinstate Medicaid billing privileges to providers who’d been stripped of that privilege for ethical misdeeds.

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Sketchy Insurance Under the ACA - Jay Hancock, beat reporter Kaiser Health News Jay Hancock, senior correspondent (with Stephanie Stapleton, editor) 2014 Beat Reporting

For the first 3 stories: On Sept. 16, after many months of work, Jay Hancock reported that insurance consultants had been selling inexpensive plans lacking hospital benefits to hundreds of large companies employing millions of lower-wage workers. Brokers promoted the plans as meeting the ACA’s toughest standard, the “minimum value” requirement that insurance cover at least 60% of a worker’s expected medical costs. And they did, according to plan features plugged into HHS’s official online spreadsheet. But the calculator was badly flawed, according to actuaries interviewed by KHN. A bigger problem: Employees offered these plans at work are ineligible for tax credits to buy exchange policies that DO include hospitalization. So workers offered such plans would be trapped in substandard coverage. Employers buying these plans were temp companies, retailers, hoteliers and restaurant chains. Nearly half of the 1,600 members of American Staffing Association, with 3 million workers, had signed up or were considering the coverage for 2015. Our stories set off a debate in the industry and reported that the administration would move against the plans two weeks before it did so, in November when HHS said: “It has come to our attention that certain group health plan designs that provide no coverage of inpatient hospital services are being promoted.” Fourth story: In May, Jay was the first to report that numerous consultants and employers were considering removing workers with chronic illness from company plans and shifting them into the exchanges. Such a move would lower costs for employers while raising costs for taxpayers and insurers paying for exchange coverage. Independent lawyers thought it looked legal. HHS started looking at the practice after the story ran, benefits lawyers told us later.

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Doctor's Orders The Wichita Eagle Kelsey Ryan, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

One patient was treated for more than four years as having lymphoma when the patient didn’t have cancer. An 83-year-old was given an antibody drug almost continuously for eight years when the diagnosis of active lymphoma was “a fantasy.” And another patient who had metastatic ovarian cancer was to be treated with her ninth different chemotherapy regimen after eight others had failed. These are just a few of the findings of internal audits and case reviews conducted for the Hutchinson Clinic in 2010 and 2011 over oncologist Mark Fesen’s practice. At one point, the auditor described the doctor’s methods as “Treat, treat and treat some more.” After the audits were completed, the doctor quietly left the clinic he’d been at for nearly 20 years for a new practice in a new city. But a year-long investigation by The Wichita Eagle helped tell patients what they otherwise would have never known about the doctor. This is a story many people didn’t want told. The story involved 12 attorneys, more than 20 sources on the record or background, hundreds of documents, weeks of reporting and more than a year between the first tip and publication. The story began when we got a tip that a cancer physician from a nearby town with a history of inappropriately treating patients had recently moved to Wichita. There were documents – internal audits – to prove it. Two audits, conducted at the request of the Hutchinson Clinic, said 40 percent of oncologist Mark Fesen’s patients had been misdiagnosed or were receiving treatment that was unnecessary, ineffective or harmful. The Eagle obtained several patient case files showing the patients had been made ill by the treatment and some internal memos questioning whether the doctor had committed Medicare fraud. The documents said the doctor: – Did not follow established national cancer-treatment guidelines in about 40 percent of the patient cases reviewed. – Treated some patients with lymphoma and cancers of the blood “unnecessarily” and “often too early, too much and too long.” The auditor suggested that Fesen should either not be allowed to treat those patients or be required to get board certification in that area. – Frequently split doses of chemotherapy and other drugs, without documenting why. – Overprescribed support IV therapies, such as minerals and antibiotics, and gave patients with blood cancer an excess number of bone marrow tests. The auditor questioned whether an external insurance audit would find documentation to justify the treatments. – The clinic worried that some of Fesen’s actions might be “interpretable” as Medicare fraud. Medicare data obtained by The Eagle through the Freedom of Information Act show the doctor’s claims dropped by about one-fourth from 2009 to 2011 to about 68,000 by the time he left the Hutchinson Clinic. The majority of the patients were elderly and from rural areas throughout Kansas. It is unclear whether the clinic told patients about the review or its findings.

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Laura Ungar beat reporting The Courier-Journal/Gannett Laura Ungar, medical writer 2014 Beat Reporting

These stories show the breadth and depth of this reporter's work. The story on Jill Conley's cancer battle, part of an ongoing series, is a personal narrative exploring an important health issue. The stories on heroin and babies born withdrawing from drugs explore a significant problem in Kentucky in a human way. And the story on ERs seeing increases in patients under Obamacare is an example of her year-long coverage of the effects -- expected an unexpected -- of the Affordable Care Act. As a whole, the package of stories incorporates investigative, explanatory and feature writing.

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Children hurting for help The Bulletin Tara Bannow, Health reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

Pediatric mental health experts in Oregon contend that the closure of large residential psychiatric facilities for children and adolescents has not been met with the adequate build-up of community mental health services. As a result, communities are forced into dichotomies where children don't get treatment for their mental health issues until they become full-blown crises. And even in those cases, the state only has a total of 39 psychiatric beds in hospitals for kids, none of which are in Central Oregon.

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Anna Gorman beat reporter: California coverage Kaiser Health News Anna Gorman, Senior Correspondent (with Julie Marquis, Senior Editor; Heidi de Marco, Photographer) 2014 Beat Reporting

First, a description of the beat: Anna covers health policy, disparities, hospitals and elder care throughout California. She has written stories about how low health literacy can impact newly insured patients’ health, the rough start for California’s effort to move low-income seniors into managed care, an innovative public financing initiative for asthma prevention, a glitch in the new benefit for people with substance abuse disorder and how a transgender patient was able to complete her transition after getting ACA coverage. In 2014, she also wrote an investigative series on the problem-filled nursing home investigation process in Los Angeles County. Specific stories: 1 & 2. These were two stories in an occasional and extensive series about the lack of oversight of nursing homes in Los Angeles County. The reporting uncovered how the county public health department – facing a long backlog of nursing home complaints -- instructed inspectors to close cases without fully investigating them. The second told the tale of one woman who filed a complaint against a nursing home after her mother’s death and waited for years for an answer. After Anna's story ran, the woman finally got a response. Other stories in the series (not included here) found that the nursing home inspectors were falsifying records and that they were reducing penalties against nursing homes without justification. 3. The story was a feature about the changing role of pharmacists, who are increasingly caring directly for patients. California is ground zero for this, passing a law that gives pharmacists more authority. The change is controversial – in California and elsewhere. Please note: this story has a video, it is part of the submission. To see it, please click on the story's url. 4. Mexican immigrants living in California continue to travel to Mexico for medical care, despite being newly insured through the Affordable Care Act.

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"Binti Lee Will Never Speak the Same" Houston Press Dianna Wray, staff writer 2014 Investigative (small)

Binti Lee was only 34 years old when she collapsed at home. Her boyfriend was unable to rouse her and called 911 and an ambulance took her to Methodist Hospital in Houston which in 2008 became the first certified comprehensive stroke center in the United States.. The doctors in the emergency room took one look at her and her 30-year-old boyfriend and made some assumptions, wrong as it turned out. Diagnosed with depression over the protests of her boyfriend who kept asking if it could have been a stroke, Lee was sent home with a Zoloft prescription. Less than 36 hours later, at a different hospital, a doctor looked at Lee and confirmed in 40 minutes that she'd had a stroke. A stroke from which she most likely would have made a full recovery if she'd received immediate treatment at the first ER. Significant findings were that despite all the information to the contrary in recent years, doctors in emergency rooms are still misdiagnosing stroke victims, especially if they are presented with a patient who is young, a minority and a woman. And that while a particular hospital may be the best place around to treat a stroke, it may not be best at diagnosing it.

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Mike Stobbe The Associated Press Mike Stobbe, medical writer 2014 Beat Reporting

"1. "The end is near - for cigarette smoking? A growing number of experts think so." AP wire, February 9, 2014. For many decades cigarette smoking has been the leading preventable cause of death in America. This analysis/enterpriser examined a widely-overlooked assertion by health officials that the days of cigarette smoking in the Unioted States are numbered. The article looked at how that might be achieved, and why some experts say it will never happen. 2. "Forgotten vials of smallpox found in storage room." AP wire, July 8, 2014. Breaking news story about how a government scientist cleaning out an old storage room found forgotten vials of smallpox - one of the most lethal diseases in human history, which was declared eradicated in 1980. The discovery was one of a series of breaking news reports by Stobbe that highlighted safety problems at government laboratories. Contributing to this report were AP staffers Marilynn Marchione and Maria Cheng. 3. "Virus probed in paralysis cases in 9 US kids." AP wire, September 26, 2014. Stobbe was the first national reporter to break the news that a respiratory illness that had caused unusual outbreaks over the summer was now being linked to cases of paralysis in some children. By year's end, health officials would receive reports of paralysis in 94 children in 33 states, with link still under investigation. AP staffer Thomas Peipert contributed to the report. 4. "No, a surgeon general couldn't stop Ebola." Politico magazine, October 20, 2014. Stobbe was heavily involved in the AP's coverage of the Ebola epidemic of 2014, bylining dozens of national stories on the topic (including breaking news about the first time Ebola patients were brought to the United States). But this article, written for Politico magazine, was a much longer piece that looked at complaints about how the U.S. government was responding to Ebola and whether the absence of a surgeon general was hurting the country in this situation. It included information from a book by Stobbe published earlier in 2014."

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Nursing home has troubling record The Roanoke Times Laurence Hammack, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

This story examined problems with resident care at the Richfield Recovery and Care Center, the second-largest nursing home in the Roanoke Valley. An examination of inspections conducted by the Virginia Department of Health revealed that Richfield had more than six times the average number of deficiencies for nursing homes in the state -- and that it was the most frequently cited facility in Virginia during 2014. Violations ranged from residents who were deemed to be fall risks allowed to wander unattended, to untreated bed sores, to a rodent infestation in the facility's kitchen. Additional problems with lax supervision and mistreatment of residents were documented through lawsuits and state disciplinary actions against nurses at Richfield.

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Sturdevant beat reporting, Hartford Courant The Hartford Courant Matthew W. Sturdevant, Staff Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

This entry includes 1) a two-part series on Medicare Advantage, 2) a story about reducing excessive ER visits by Medicaid patients, and 3) a historic look back at the genesis of Hartford's first hospital. 1. The two-part Medicare Advantage series is a deep dive into an issue I started reporting in October 2013 after UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurer, decided to drop thousands of medical doctors from its Medicare Advantage network. The news became public only days before open enrollment began, and there were few details about which doctors were being cut and why. I tracked the issue from the early complaints by two Connecticut medical societies through a federal court battle and finally, a change in policy by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The insurance company stonewalled us for most of the process. I worked around that lack of information by getting letters sent to patients and correspondence with physicians and medical societies. I analyzed the funding of Medicare Advantage to explain that insurers get more money per Medicare recipient, which puts taxpayers on the hook for a service that leaves many patients still unhappy and unable to be treated by the doctors they have seen for years. More to the point, there was no safeguard against an insurance company dropping hospitals and doctors from its network. Now there is. The CMS change was reported widely by various news sources, but it was my reporting at The Hartford Courant that catapulted this issue to the fore. 2. In the summer, I shadowed a nonprofit organization that is working with a local hospital to reduce excessive emergency room visits by people on Medicaid. Driving ER visits is the inability by Medicaid patients to find primary-care physicians who will take their insurance. After a number of patients were reluctant to talk, some opened up to talk about their health struggles. 3. In the late summer, as part of The Hartford Courant's retrospective for its 250th anniversary, I wrote an article about the founding of Hartford Hospital. Archived materials informed my report, as did a long-retired physician and archivist who connected the dots between a major factory explosion in the 1800s and the founding of the hospital.

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Can Financial Planning Help Stem the Rate of Military Suicides? Financial Planning Ann Marsh, Senior Editor (with Scott Wenger, Editor; Kamrhan Farwell, Contributing Editor) 2014 Investigative (small)

"Most Americans believe the hundreds of soldiers (and many more veterans) who kill themselves every year do so over lingering combat trauma. They’re likely wrong. Financial Planning senior editor Ann Marsh's investigation into military suicide turned a spotlight on an overlooked but leading factor in the epidemic: financial distress. The month following publication in May, a congressman relied on Financial Planning’s findings to craft legislation – which passed – to study the links between financial stress and military suicide, and seek more effective interventions. The proposal was added to the 2015 federal spending plan and signed into law in December. Strikingly, while most Americans believe lingering combat trauma is causing most soldiers to kill themselves, Financial Planning’s investigation found that more than 80% of suicides were among soldiers who did not see combat – and more than half of the suicides in 2012 were among soldiers who never even deployed. Reporting over 11 months and dozens of interviews presented steep challenges because the Pentagon gathers few statistics about its financial planning programs. However, Marsh eventually learned key facts about how the Defense Department handles its soldiers' and veterans' financial problems. The agency doesn’t allow the financial planners that it hires to provide actual planning assistance, only generic advice; planners who help soldiers in crisis risk being fired – as were planners featured in the story. Separately, all active-duty soldiers who kill themselves trigger high insurance payouts for their survivors. The subject of financial distress as a factor in this epidemic has gone almost entirely unaddressed. The topic “has not had any piece of the attention that has been paid to suicide in the military," Marsh quoted the congressman who sponsored the legislation as saying in a follow-up story. The Army sergeant at the center of the story, Angelo Stevens was living under the cloud of $100,000 in debt that was threatening his security clearance and his continued employment. Two of his children were seriously ill. “If I'm dead my family can get $500,000 in life insurance, but I have to kill myself," he said -- a quote the congressman later read on the floor of the House. Only after a financial planner, against military policy, risked her job to help him did Stevens see another way forward. Marsh interviewed dozens of serving members of the armed forces, financial planners, experts on stress in the military, and officials at the Pentagon. She continually pressed Defense Department officials for data and explanations, and received some key statistics and other data that had not been published previously. She persuaded proud, serving members of the military to talk of their fears for their families, their humiliation after falling into deep financial trouble, and their difficulty within the military’s command structure and macho culture of admitting their problems and seeking help. The main article was accompanied by a sidebar that outlined eight strategies to help troops with financial strife."

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"The Cost of Not Caring" USA TODAY LIZ SZABO, MEDICAL REPORTER 2014 Beat Reporting

"The Cost of Not Caring" found that the USA pays a tremendous financial and human cost for ignoring the plight of those with serious mental illness and failing to repair the nation's broken mental health system. I wrote four of the nine parts of this series and I'm including these four in my beat reporting entry. While three ran in print in 2014, the last ran only online. Both citizens and lawmakers often conclude that fixing the problem would be too expensive. In fact, we showed that ignoring the problem is far more expensive, costing the USA at least $444 billion a year, mostly through lost income that people could have generated if they had been healthy. Nearly 600,000 Americans with serious mental illness a year end up homeless, incarcerated or dead from suicide. The USA has chosen to accept a "default" mental health system -- made up of emergency rooms, jails, homeless shelters and city street -- rather than a functioning system. We examined what happens to people because of this failure, devoting cover stories to places where people end up: jail, city streets, with overwhelmed family members, the morgue. The country doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, however. There are many cost-effective -- and sometimes even cost-saving -- solutions. Yet the USA chooses over and over not to use them."

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Cereal Killers Ghana Journalists Association Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Investigative Reporter (with Ahmed Divela Hussein, Investigator) 2014 Investigative (small)

Cereal Killers _ Synopsis Cereal Killers had to do with the stealing of food meant for malnourished children in Ghana’s most deprived region, Upper East and West Regions in Ghana’s north. It focuses on the general theme of corruption. But more critically in an area that many people even the authorities in charge least expected. Anas Aremeyaw Anas goes undercover to expose the activities of Ghana Health Service officers who are into the corrupt business of selling specialized foods donated by the World Food Program (WFP) to be given free-of-charge to malnourished children in the north. Even with our middle income status, Ghana is considered as a food deficit country due to poverty in most parts of the northern and volta regions. Due to this, the World Food Program (WFP) and its donor partners supply in excess of USD 20 million each year in food aid to cater for these malnourished children who are badly in need of food. All these amount of food is for the two regions and the northern region gets the chunk of food. Cereal Killers reflects a systemic canker of corruption that has almost eroded our social fabric. Corruption requires a concerted effort to stamp out because when it thrives, we all pay the price directly or indirectly. The suspects captured in the act of committing this fatal crime are currently in police custody.

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Breaking the taboo: talking fertility and female bits ABC Katie Louise Silver, Reporter (with Norman Swan) 2014 Beat Reporting

The first program was entitled 'Beyond the pill': It looked at why, despite international studies finding alternative contraceptives up to twenty times more effective at preventing an unintended pregnancy, their rate of take-up in Australia remains dismal. The second program 'The tick-tock of the biological clock'; reported the work of Jean Twenge who, through metanalyses, found our notion of a 'biological clock' to be overblown and procreation not as difficult as we've been led to believe. The piece on Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus explained a relatively common disorder that makes life for a large number of post-menopausal women excruciating. Vastly unknown amongst health professionals, it is often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as thrush. A relatively treatable condition if caught early, the lost time means these women often have to causing the women to have horrific, unnecessary surgery where their labias are removed. The fourth piece - Endometriosis - explored a medical condition more common than asthma or diabetes. Affecting one in ten Australian women, sufferers describe the pain as otherworldly - as if they are being torn up from their insides. Yet the treatment options available in Australia are minimal. This is the story of a tenacious mother-daughter team who fought tooth and nail, via Twitter and Facebook, for Australia to have access for a drug to manage the pain.

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Fallon's Deadly Legacy High Country News Sierra Crane-Murdoch Crane-Murdoch, Contributing Editor 2014 Investigative (small)

A decade ago, the desert town of Fallon, Nevada made national headlines when 16 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia emerged in children over a short period of time. Health officials declared it the most significant childhood cancer cluster on national record and launched an investigation unprecedented in cost and scope. They never found the cause. Epidemiology is a notoriously difficult science: Out of 400 state and federal investigations of cancer clusters since 1990, only three revealed a culprit. The odds have led many scientists to dismiss clusters as coincidence. But there are other explanations: Could it be that our tools of inquiry are not a match for the complex mysteries we’re trying to solve? And even if they were, disease clusters are often so small that studies have high margins of error, offering no conclusive causal links, when, really, links could exist. “By the time you see a relationship between environmental exposure and a health concern,” says Rachel Morello-Frosch, a professor of public health at the University of California-Berkeley, “you’re basically doing a body count.” “Fallon’s Deadly Legacy” is about the limits of epidemiology and what happens after science fails to explain a traumatic event. The story follows April Brune, whose eleven-year-old son recently died of brain cancer, as she tries to uncover the cause of his illness, believing it is related to the leukemia cluster. Brune makes some startling discoveries—a leaky jet fuel pipeline running beneath her son’s school, a heavy-metal processing facility near to her house—but is discouraged by a shortage of answers and stymied by her community’s collective silence. In the end, the answer is likely a combination of factors: “the culmination of a long chain of unfortunate events — a ‘causal pathway’ (as one researcher put it) — each link representing a genetic mutation provoked by toxic exposure, infection, or another challenge to the immune system.” “Saying there’s one particular cause,” the researcher explains, “is a difficult thing to do.”

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Ebola: Virology, Epidemiology And Broader Health Repercussions NPR Michaeleen Doucleff, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

I began covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in March 2014. Over the past year, I reported on three main aspects of the epidemic: 1. Science of the virus, including how it spreads, kills and is contained. 2. Epidemiological trends, including why this outbreak is hard to stop, how Ebola got to West Africa and how it exploded into an epidemic. 3. Broader health repercussions of Ebola, including effects on vaccinations and education. Radio Story 1: Dangerous Deliveries: Ebola Leaves Mom And Babies Without Care In Liberia, I heard about many people catching Ebola while helping pregnant women. The problem was so severe that health clinics had stopped seeing all pregnant women. This story uncovers the root cause of this problem and shows how the ripple effects of Ebola could be more catastrophic than the virus. In the radio and Web story, we first hear from a midwife about what happens when a pregnant woman gets Ebola. The woman invariably miscarries or goes into early labor. She bleeds profusely. Many health workers became infected during deliveries, so clinics stopped delivering babies. Next we see firsthand the ripple effects of this shift in maternal care. We hear from a midwife about three women in labor, the night before, who had traveled around the city looking for help. By the time they made it to a hospital that would see them, all three babies had died. The story then places these anecdotes in a broader picture by explaining what could happen if clinics don’t reopen their doors to pregnant women: Across the region, tens of thousands of women and babies could die. Web Story 1: No, Seriously, How Contagious is Ebola? The first Ebola cases in the U.S. triggered widespread fear and misconceptions about the virus. In particular, there was confusion about how easily Ebola spreads. My goal was to clear up this confusion. Instead of simply telling readers the facts, I illustrated data supporting them. I compared Ebola to other viruses by explaining the epidemiological metric, Ro. I worked with an illustrator to communicate the essence of the data in a simple infographic. Then readers could draw their own conclusions about the virus. They could see for themselves that Ebola is less contagious than other viruses. This story got a phenomenal response. It received more than 2.7 million page views and was shared more than 60,000 times on Facebook. Web Story 2: Ebola In The Air: What Science Says About How The Virus Spreads Americans also had misconceptions about whether Ebola was “airborne.” To clear up this confusion, I explained how pathogens can spread through the air in two ways: the airborne route and the droplet route. Some viruses move far distances through the air in suspended clouds of tiny droplets. But Ebola moves in large, fat droplets that quickly fall to the ground. So it can’t spread very far. I designed an infographic to illustrate these two route and explained how Ebola can spread through the airborne route in the lab but not outside of it. Radio Story 2: A Frightening Curve: How Fast Is The Ebola Outbreak Growing? In August, Ebola started to spread exponentially. Disease modelers were predicting massive cases by October if help didn’t arrive. This radio and Web story explains what it means to spread exponentially and why the window for stopping the epidemic was quickly closing. To help the reader draw their own conclusions, I built a chart showing predictions of the epidemic with and without interventions.

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Stonewalling Patient Complaints Modern Healthcare Joe Carlson, Staff Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

The public believes that hospitals are strictly inspected for patient safety, but our analysis of at one major national health center calls into question whether government officials have strong-enough tools for enforcement when patients are injured. Our analysis found that the Cleveland Clinic spent 19 months during a four-year period under direct threat of being kicked out of Medicare. The threat was never carried out. That’s despite alarming findings by inspectors, including: a series of six operating-room fires in an 11-month span; the CEO’s admission that robotic-surgery patients were sometimes not informed that doctor did robotically assisted procedures on them; a physician-credentialing system so rife with holes that the hospital’s own chief medical officer was not credentialed. Experts told us that individual violations can happen at any hospital, but it was the repetition of the same types of issues, and long stretches of time it take to resolve them, that are more concerning.

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Environmental health and pollution Environmental Health News - www.ehn.org Lindsey Konkel, Editor / Staff Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

The stories describe how exposure to toxic compounds, both (manmade and natural), may be influencing human health around the world.

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Unregulated Tests New England Center for Investigative Reporting Beth Daley 2014 Investigative (small)


Place: First Place

A growing, unregulated subset of diagnostic tests is leading to patient harm because of misdiagnoses and misunderstandings by doctors and patients. Several Lyme disease tests that have never proven to work are prompting patients to take years of unnecessary, expensive and harmful antibiotics. A new generation of prenatal screening tests is prompting some abortions of healthy fetuses because of a lack of FDA oversight, a highly competitive market and doctors’ misunderstanding of complex statistics.

Judges' comments: The clear winner of the field. An ambitious investigation that has the potential to impact thousands of people.

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Erika Check Hayden's 2014 Body of Work Nature, Wired Erika Check Hayden 2014 Beat Reporting


Place: Second Place

Ebola was one of the major global crises of 2014, and Erika Check Hayden pursued the story of this crisis all the way to Sierra Leone, one of the three countries hit hardest by the outbreak. Erika's beat at Nature encompasses infectious disease, and she drew on her many years of experience on that beat in her coverage of the epidemic. She told the story of an international team of doctors and scientists that fought to conduct potentially lifesaving research on Ebola even as the disease claimed the lives of their colleagues in Sierra Leone. Other pieces provided a front-line account of how cultural practices complicated the Ebola fight, told the story of nurses who survive Ebola return to help others and showed how nurses are shunned by their communities and how the team she covered in "Ebola's lost ward" has begun new research to develop drugs to treat the disease.

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Secrecy protects surgeon's trail of pain Argus Leader Media Jonathan Ellis, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

The story of Dr. Alan Sossan is littered with tales of human suffering. It would be easy to stop there. But what the dogged investigative work of Jonathan Ellis revealed with a state licensing system that was at best asleep at the wheel and at worst liable in the clearly negligent work of this surgeon. This first story sent shock waves through the medical community and subsequent stories have revealed fractures in the peer review system that's meant to protect patients from just such dangers. The process is completely secret and the Sossan investigation exposed the shortcomings of that system.

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Naturopaths fight for Oregon insurance coverage The Bulletin Tara Bannow, Health reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

Oregon’s naturopathic physicians believe the Affordable Care Act’s provider nondiscrimination clause permits insurers to reimburse them as patients’ primary care providers. Insurance carriers disagree, however, and most cover them under separate, alternative care sections of their policies. The providers hope a bill that will be introduced in the 2015 legislative session will compel insurers to cover them as primary care providers, but others disagree that they have adequate training and expertise to serve in this role.

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An immigration system that breaks hearts MundoHispánico Newspaper Johanes Roselló, Reporter 2014 Investigative (small)

For four months I interviewed families who’d been affected by the deportation of a father or spouse. I also interviewed professionals: teachers, psychologists, attorneys and community organizers who work with these families.Through my project, two aspects of the families separated by deportation caught my attention. According to experts, the children are the most devastated and in many homes the mothers are not prepared to provide for the family when the father is no longer present. Many mothers don’t want to go back to their home countries because they think that the best opportunities for their children, many of them American citizens, are here. As I did my reporting, it struck me how often the children in such families started to have nightmares, screamed at night, and got sick in the wake of the father’s deportation. Experts such as Laura Marantz, school counselor at Berkeley Lake Elementary School in Duluth, Ga., compared the experience of deportation with the death or divorce of one’s parents. The schools refer many of these kids to psychologists or counsellors, but parents such as Dionila Roblero, a Guatemalan whose husband was deported in 2012, often don’t seek any counseling or therapy. Roblero and other women found needed support in their faith communities or in their neighborhoods.There’s still a lack of information among families about services and organizations available to help if they need mental health services. And some still avoid seeking psychological help due to the stigma associated with it. In Georgia, there’s a need for more bicultural and bilingual experts who can help these families, as well as more community organizations who can take the family through the process of getting the services they need after the deportation of the fathers.

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Would quick intervention have saved St. Charles patient? The Bulletin Tara Bannow, Health reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

A 65-year-old St. Charles Bend patient died Dec. 3, two days after staff members there accidentally gave her a paralyzing agent instead of the anti-seizure medication her physician had ordered. The mistake, which hospital officials publicly acknowledged and apologized for after the patient's family took their story to the media, happened because the wrong drug was inserted into the patient's IV bag and labeled as the medication she was supposed to receive. Although hospital officials place all of the blame for the incident on the wrong medication being administered, other medical experts have questioned whether the patient could have been saved had she not been left unattended in her room for up to 40 minutes after the drug was administered.

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Israel's Public Health Challenge: Disasters Fox 32 Dr Mona Khanna, Medical Contributor (with Tim Morris, Editor; Thom King, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

Israel's biggest public health challenge is that it is constantly in the line of fire. Residents of Sderot, the neighboring town of Gaza, live under a cloud of fear of ongoing rocket attacks. Soak up what that is like, meet the American doctors who went to Israel to train in terrorism medicine and learn about the organization there that responds to emergencies and takes care of the sick.

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Shaky bridge across safety chasm in healthcare Modern Healthcare Magazine Sabriya Rice, Staff Reporter (with Darius Tahir, Staff Reporter) 2014 Beat Reporting

"Healthcare facilities across the U.S. continue to face major challenges as they cross what has been deemed a "quality chasm” by some safety leaders. Though the nation is seeing great progress in some areas, others remain overlooked… and even tools meant to boost progress can have downsides. In 2014, Modern Healthcare staff reporter, Sabriya Rice, looked at various aspects of the issue. For example, she delved into the confusion that mixed reviews from multiple different hospital rating sites cause for hospitals and consumers alike. She also looked at how more hospitals and health systems are hiring chief experience officer to improve poor ratings and avoid financial penalties. Although there have been improvements in commonly reported safety events – like hospital acquired infections or surgical mistakes - several types of events that lead to harm remain overlooked. The frequent and rapid introduction of new technology into healthcare, for example, can lead to patient harm if the human factor is not considered or if staffers are not adequately trained. But the sharing of technology errors is extremely limited. And hospital employees often overlook protocols on professional interpreter use when they are rushed, even though language barriers can lead to serious harm or death for ESL patients. Rice's suite of cover articles dug deeper into the many hurdles being faced on the shaky bridge across the quality chasm."

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Killer Drugs: Tackling Opioid Addiction and Overdose Rhode Island Public Radio Kristin Espeland Gourlay, Health care reporter (with Catherine Welch, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

"A special report on the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose in Rhode Island and beyond, "Killer Drugs" examines the rise of prescription painkiller and heroin addiction, the challenge of being a first-responder on the front lines of this crisis of addiction and overdose, and how communities, and addicts, can and do recover. The one-hour documentary looks at a recent spike in the number of accidental opioid overdose deaths, state and regional efforts to prevent those deaths, and the barriers of stigma and public policy that stymie those efforts. The reporting began when few police departments were using an overdose rescue drug called Narcan; that drug is now widely available. But challenges remain, including the widespread availability of highly addictive prescription painkillers, combined with the widespread availability and lower price of heroin."

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Beat reporting — research, investigation, daily news and feature writing Post-Bulletin Co., L.L.C. Jeff Hansel, Health reporter/columnist 2014 Beat Reporting

The health beat in Rochester, Minn. includes research (breaking the news that human stem-cell studies are underway locally against ALS), consumer news, construction, investigation (such as uncovering the Mayo Clinic's Mayo Medical Laboratories lost the contract for newborn blood screening), daily news coverage (such as Mayo Clinic's sesquicentennial celebration) and feature writing (such as a weekend package about life as a transgender person that carries suicide risk and health discrimination; breaking the news that Mayo Clinic plans a transgender health pilot program).

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Low-Income Latinas Turn to Group Visits for Prenatal Care KQED Public Radio Shuka Kalantari, Reporter (with Julia McEvoy, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

"Low-income Latina immigrants who are pregnant have better health outcomes when using a model of prenatal care called "Centering Pregnancy." In this model, women meet in groups for prenatal visits that include one-on-one care with a midwife, group discussions, and meditation. San Francisco General Hospital is at the forefront of this national prenatal health model. Studies show Centering Pregnancy leads to better birth outcomes when compared against standard care. Women who do Centering Pregnancy are more likely to breastfeed and attend prenatal care appointments. They’re less likely to have postpartum depression and preterm births. Centering Pregnancy is also linked to fewer caesarean sections, and that saves taxpayer Medicaid dollars. (Please scroll to the bottom of the link for the audio)"

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Liz Kowalczyk's 2014 Body of Work The Boston Globe Liz Kowalczyk 2014 Beat Reporting


Place: First Place

• "Donor's Death Shatters Family, Stuns Surgeons" examines the life and death of a 56-year-old liver donor at Lahey Clinic, only the third fatality of a living liver donor in the US. It provides a behind-the-scenes narrative of Paul Hawk's decision to donate part of his liver to his brother-in-law and the breakdown in the family after he died. The story finds that the potential impact on family relationships is rarely discussed during the informed consent process for living donors and that transplant centers are sometimes more focused on the health and well-being of recipients than donors. It also documents resistance in the industry to developing more stringent informed consent rules and medical evaluation procedures for living donors.
• "A Warning, A Delayed Repair, A Patient Dies" describes the state's refusal to provide money to install safety windows in a hospital for the mentally-ill, despite warnings of the risk, leading to a patient jumping to his death. It found that the state did not approve funds for the safety glass until the day after the patient died.
• "Surgical Error at Tufts Prompts Widespread Changes" chronicles the missteps leading to a fatal medical error for a 74-year-old woman undergoing elective surgery, including the surgeon's "cognitive bias," which led him to misread the label on the operating room drug that caused her death. The story also uncovered limitations in Massachusetts' efforts to reform the medical malpractice system.
• "Marathon Bombing Victim Builds on Her Recovery" describeds how a teenage victim in the bombing, who had not previously shared her story, fought to save her mangled leg, despite the skepticism of her doctors."

Judges' comments: Liz Kowalczyk's stories offer vivid narratives, clear knowledge of hospital systems, impressive access to intimate details, dogged pursuit of hard-to-get information and documents based on her experience with the field. In other words, excellent beat reporting.

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Wanted: Nurses For Fight Against Ebola Nurse.com/Gannett Healthcare Group Cathryn Domrose, Staff writer (with Sallie JImenez, National editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

In early October, Audrey Rangel, MIPH, RN, spoke to Nurse.com by Skype from Monrovia, Liberia, where Ebola had hit especially hard. She described in great detail the layered, complex suits that she and other nurses wore and changed just about every hour, the 10-day intensive training she received, the nursing care she provided and the precautions and self-care she and the other three nurses practiced. Rangel also talked about what she saw and heard on the streets of Monrovia, and what education and information was being disseminated in the city. The only emergency models available are for “typical” emergency responses, but as everyone knew, the Ebola outbreak was not a typical emergency. For this very reason, sources from Partners in Health, International Medical Corps and Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health discuss the importance of training nurses properly prior to sending them in to Africa as well establishing safety and training criteria for volunteers responding to the Ebola crisis, including evacuation plans and the process for transporting volunteers who contract the virus.

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Luis Fabregas: Medical Beat Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Luis Fabregas, Medical Editor 2014 Beat Reporting

Luis Fabregas covers organ transplantation in a city once known as the transplant capital of the world. The submitted stories include one about the controversial issue of organ transplants for foreign patients. More than 200 such patients receive transplants in the United States every year, raising questions among critics who say Americans citizens could be short-changed. In other stories, Fabregas writes about organ rejection, as in the case of a teen with cystic fibrosis who started rejecting her new lungs. In yet another story, Fabregas explains the motivation of live organ donors as well as the risks they undergo during organ procurement surgery. Fabregas also writes about other medical issues, as shown in a story about the debate over the definition of the word cancer.

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First on the Scene freelance Heather Stringer, writer (with Sallie JImenez, National editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

Nurses at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta were among the first RNs to treat patients with the Ebola virus in the United States. In this online feature that also appeared in the Nurse.com Ebola magazine app, Carolyn Hill, MSN, RN-BC, nursing unit director of the serious communicable disease unit at Emory, shared what they learned in the process of caring for three patients with Ebola at the facility. Hill described it as an “emotional journey,” and said that practicing what they learned was one thing, implementing it in a real situation was quite another experience. She discussed the challenges the nurses faced in the 18-step donning and doffing of the personal protective equipment and in caring for the Ebola patients and themselves. They handled logistics like adjusting shift hours, juggling nurse staffing and learning how to maintain the ventilators. Open communication among the care team and to the entire hospital was a critical component to their success, and Hill’s reflections on “lessons learned” can benefit patients and caregivers overseas and at home.

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"Best bang for buck at hospitals no easy call," "Worries grow as health deadline nears," Blue Cross- Omaha World-Herald Rick Glissmann Ruggles, reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

"Best bang for buck ..." -- This story attempts to examine a medical system administrator's claim that his hospitals offer the highest quality in the region. It also seeks to compare the prices of hospital services in the region. The story grew from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska's contract dispute with Alegent Creighton Health, which became CHI Health in 2014. The story questioned the administrator's contention and verified the Blue Cross claim that Alegent Creighton had high prices. "Worries grow ..." -- The story assesses the impact on patients and doctors if Alegent Creighton Health (soon to be renamed CHI Health) left Blue Cross network. "Blue Cross-CHI split ..." -- The story examines the affect a Blue Cross-CHI Health split could have on smaller towns that have CHI Health hospitals in them. Using data provided by Blue Cross, it shows how business has shifted away from CHI Health hospitals in rural towns to non-CHI hospitals in those or nearby communities. "Sticker shock may hit ..." -- The story shows the difference in price between seeing a medical provider within the Blue Cross network and the price a Blue Cross member would pay if he went to a CHI Health provider."

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The Mysterious Fungus Infecting the American Southwest Freelance Madeleine Thomas, Reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

Valley fever has been around for more than 100 years, and disproportionately affects poor farmworkers. For some, it becomes a lifelong illness, and doctors don't know why. The disease is caused by a mysterious fungus endemic to the dusty soils of California’s Central Valley. Symptoms range from mild fatigue to incapacitating, flesh-eating infections, and despite decades of research, very little is known as to how the fungus operates, making advances in treatment and the push to develop a vaccine painfully slow. Getting sick with valley fever can be as easy as driving through a city like Bakersfield with the windows down. In fact, people living in endemic areas are more likely to develop valley fever than the chickenpox. All it takes is breathing in a single spore. A third of all infections nationwide occur in California and rates are steadily increasing. This piece investigates the disease in Kern County, an area in the Central Valley where infections are the highest in the state. The NIH and the CDC finally took action to establish a clinical trial for disease research this year, with the hopes of starting work to establish a vaccine, yet many of the public health experts and doctors I’ve spoken to say that if valley fever were infecting techies in San Francisco or politicians in Washington, DC, the constant push for state and federal funding would be a non-issue.

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UNCOVERING SAFETY LAPSES AT THE CDC Reuters Julie Carpenter Steenhuysen, Correspondent (with Sharon Begley, Correspondent; Hilary Russ, Correspondent) 2014 Beat Reporting

Reuters reporters Julie Steenhuysen, Sharon Begley and Hilary Russ were far ahead of our competitors on news of safety lapses at the labs run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, Reuters was first to report on June 19 that lapses in laboratory safety may have exposed dozens of workers to anthrax bacteria at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting a new focus on how the nation handles research into deadly pathogens. We then followed up with a series of exclusive stories. The first detailed the actions inside the laboratory that led to the mishap. The second was the first to report the CDC’s internal response of reassigning the lab’s director. The third chronicled how the agency had failed to heed its own recommendations issued years ago for ensuring that federal workers, and the public at large, remain safe. The stories struck a careful balance between explaining the rationale for such scientific work, including the need to understand how to prevent a new pandemic or to respond to a bioterror attack involving Ebola or avian flu, and the concerns within the research community about the safety guidelines employed at more than 1,400 U.S. high security laboratories.

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Food Sleuth Radio interview with Dr. Jeff Ritterman KOPN - Pacifica and Public Radio Exchange Melinda I Hemmelgarn, Radio host (with Dan Hemmelgarn, Producer) 2014 Public Health (large)

Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is widely used globally, but has been linked to a mysterious fatal kidney disease among farmers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Dr. Jeff Ritterman, M.D., member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (San Francisco, CA), and global humanitarian, explains how Roundup may bind toxic metals and deliver them to kidney tubules, leading to widespread fatal kidney disease. Ritterman’s investigation into the herbicide has led him to conclude that it should be banned. Ritterman also shared his global insights into health and disease, recommending that we focus on equity, the food system, and energy/climate change.

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EXPOSING HOW THE U.S. WAS UNPREPARED FOR EBOLA Reuters Julie Steenhuysen, Correspondent (with Sharon Begley, Correspondent; Yasmeen Abutaleb, Correspondent) 2014 Beat Reporting

When the first case of Ebola infection was diagnosed on U.S. soil in late September, Reuters had already identified a key area in which the nation was unprepared to safely handle cases of the deadly virus: Julie Steenhuysen exclusively reported that government agencies disagreed over how to handle the piles of infectious waste that result from caring for an Ebola patient. The story proved prescient. Only a few days later, Liberian traveler Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with the virus at a Dallas hospital, and local health authorities struggled to handle many aspects of his care, including removing waste from the hospital treating him and the apartment at which he stayed. Reuters was also first to report efforts by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Transportation to resolve the dilemma. In the coming weeks, reporters Julie Steenhuysen and Sharon Begley detailed, well ahead of our competitors, the other obstacles facing U.S. nurses, doctors and researchers as they contemplated their role in curbing the worst Ebola outbreak on record. A second article focused on how nurses nationwide feared they did not have the proper training to handle Ebola patients and use the head-to-toe protective clothing meant to prevent them from becoming infected. A third article studied local contingency plans to demonstrate how city and state government were unprepared for the many aspects of handling Ebola. A fourth story showed for the first time how hospitals were weighing the types of procedures they might not perform on an Ebola patient if the potential benefit was outweighed by the risk of exposing doctors and nurses to the devastating illness.

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Solving The Puzzling Mental Illnessof Bhutanese Refugees KCUR 89.3 FM Alex Smith, health reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

Since arriving in the U.S. from Bhutan, many refugees escaping ethnic cleansing there have shown strikingly high rates of mental illness and suicide. A University of Kansas doctor who spent years in the Himalayas has been working on addressing the problem. When conventional medical solutions didn't work, he decided to explore more cultural-oriented treatments. He's found considerable success by using yoga, a practice that is native to the refugees' culture but was inaccessible to them during their difficult lives. The doctor believes yoga holds great promise for other Bhutanese refugees in the U.S. suffering from the same problems.

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Beat: Autism SFARI.org, freelance Sarah DeWeerdt, writer 2014 Beat Reporting

When it comes to a beat such as autism that is the subject of so much media interest, it would seem that there is little fresh ground to cover. But SFARI.org published a number of stories in 2014 in which I tried to look beyond what we think we know about autism, and found surprisingly rich narratives. A story on early intervention for autism digs into what ‘early’ intervention really means and wrestles with the contradictions inherent in trying to intervene before autism can even be reliably diagnosed. Stories on autism characteristics in girls and on suicidal thoughts in people with autism shed light on relatively little-known, even ignored, aspects of the disorder. And a story on genetics-first studies of autism focuses not only on a flashy new research technique, but on the people — both researchers and study participants — who make studies using that approach possible.

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Kansas Seeks To Address Prison Guard 'Correctional Fatigue' KCUR 89.3 FM Alex Smith, health reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

"Prison reform has focused on improving conditions for inmates. However, studies show that prison guards also suffer significant physical and mental health issues resulting from the stresses of the job. The state of Kansas is working to address "correctional fatigue" with the help of the psychologist who coined the term. But some guards and advocates say the issue goes beyond the stresses inherent in the work. They point to funding cuts and poor prison leadership as equally detrimental to the well-being of prison personnel."

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Beat: Autism genetics SFARI.org Jessica Wright, reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

Much of the media attention on autism focuses on the contribution of environmental causes, such as the debunked yet tenacious vaccine theory. This continues despite strong scientific evidence for autism’s genetic origin. One reason for this may be that autism genetics is staggeringly complex, involving hundreds — maybe even thousands — of genes that interact with each other as well as environmental factors. In these stories, I try to unravel this complexity — from the study finding the largest number of autism genes so far, to researchers’ attempt to find signal in the vast genetic noise. I also focus on the next steps after finding a genetic candidate — how to follow this lead to a better understanding of the disorder, and to potential treatments.

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Unequal health in Minnesota Minnesota Public Radio Lorna Benson, Health care correspondent (with Mike Edgerly, News Director; David Cazares, Web Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

MPR News explored Minnesota's vast and troubling ethnic and racial health disparities. Unequal Health in Minnesota told stories from the communities in which the disparities exist, and focused on steps that could be taken to remediate the stark contrast between health outcomes for whites and people of color. The stories shed light on the patterns of asthma among children in inner city neighborhoods, the cancer rates among American Indians and the disparities in mental and emotional health experienced by sexual and gender minorities.

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ACA beat reporting entry, Haberkorn POLITICO Jennifer Haberkorn Haberkorn, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

These four stories demonstrated the wide range of success, failure and unexpected results in the states as they implemented Obamacare in its first year of enrollment. It exposed the urgent need for insurers in Mississippi, that even the best intentions in Oregon led to an unequivocal technological failure and that political success doesn't always follow policy success.

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ProPublica: The Hidden Cost of Gun Violence ProPublica Lois Beckett, Reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

The article highlights the dramatic rates of untreated PTSD in inner-city neighborhoods through the story of an Oakland mother and her daughter who dealt with post-traumatic stress after a shooting last year. It looks at the systematic failure to address gun violence-related trauma in cities across the country, and highlights two successful approaches to identifying and treating civilian trauma, in Oakland and in Philadelphia.

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Nurith Aizenman's 2014 Body of Work NPR Nurith Aizenman 2014 Beat Reporting


Place: Third Place

Nurith Aizenman went to west Africa to cover the Ebola crisis. Her stories include:
• Breaking news about a riot triggered by a quarantine, covered in the midst of considerable time pressure and physical danger, that explained the larger context of public health policies
• An explanation of why people with diseases other than Ebola were avoiding hospitals and why hospitals were becoming hotspots of transmission
• A straightforward account of what was fast becoming a commonplace ritual in Monrovia — the arrival of a body collection team to remove the latest Ebola victim from a neighborhood
• A story highlighting the fact that, while the situation in Liberia had improved, Sierra Leone was experiencing a sudden surge of infections in its capital and areas to the north

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"Getting to the Root of the Problem" MODERN HEALTHCARE MAGAZINE STEVEN ROSS JOHNSON, REPORTER 2014 Public Health (large)

Healthcare systems in impoverished areas are turning toward tackling the social conditions that lead to ill-health, but they may pay a financial penalty since payers still do not reimburse for those activities.

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Beat coverage of Medicaid in Tennessee The Tennessean Tom Wilemon Wilemon, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

While Tennessee is one of several Southern states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, these stories focus on other barriers to health care. Poor people in Tennessee face severe hurdles just applying for coverage and elderly people have to meet stricter guidelines to qualify for nursing home coverage. My reporting cast light on a state agency that was unresponsive these problems.

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Heroin Surges as Kentucky Cracks Down on Pain Pills The Courier-Journal/Gannett Laura Ungar, medical writer (with Chris Kenning, general assignment reporter) 2014 Public Health (large)

Heroin has been surging in Kentucky since the state cracked down on prescription drug abuse. Deaths are up, and addicts have crowded jails and treatment centers.

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Remaking Medicine The New York Times Abby Goodnough, reporter (with Emma Cott, video journalist; Erica Berenstein, video journalist) 2014 Beat Reporting

The idea behind the series was to look at the early effects of the Affordable Care Act, particularly the expansion of health coverage, in one American city. We focused on Louisville because Kentucky had both created its own insurance exchange and expanded Medicaid, with a Democratic governor who championed the law despite skepticism or downright hostility from many of the state's voters. The state also has a famously unhealthy populace, making it a compelling laboratory for the law. We wanted the stories and videos to go deep into how the law was affecting people's lives, from hospital-employed doctors to nurse practitioners at community health centers to patients who qualified for Medicaid and those received subsidized coverage. My beat is covering the Affordable Care Act, and my main assignment in 2014 was to travel the country to look up close at how the law is affecting real people on the ground. Louisville was ground zero for my exploration.

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Under Her Skin: Living with Breast Cancer The Takeaway/WNYC Jillian Weinberger, Producer (with Ellen Frankman, Associate Producer; Arwa Gunja, Senior Producer) 2014 Public Health (large)

Over the last 30 years, researchers have documented a widening survival gap between black and white women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. In March 2014, one study found that black women diagnosed with breast cancer are, on average, 40 percent more likely to die than their white counterparts. With that dire statistic in mind, The Takeaway decided to look behind the numbers and hear from a range of African-American women diagnosed with the disease. The six month series was launched on July 1, 2014. “Under Her Skin: Living With Breast Cancer” shared the uniquely personal stories of three black women fighting breast cancer at varying stages: Lisa Echols, a 47-year-old mother of two and hospital technician from Memphis; Crystal Miller, a 28-year-old nurse from New York City; and Anita Coleman, a 55-year-old grandmother from Los Angeles who was fighting breast cancer for the second time. In audio diaries, each woman documented her experiences -- personal thoughts and anxieties, concerns over faith, doctors’ visits, chemotherapy treatments, family gatherings -- and tackled difficult questions: “Is this how I’m going to die?” “How do I pay for this?” “Do I still believe in God?” The diaries aired on The Takeaway’s affiliates and on an interactive website, www.livingwithbreastcancer.org. Host John Hockenberry led periodic interviews with all three women and with experts on the disease, and producers curated a Facebook group where listeners shared their own stories and advice for fellow patients.

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Health in the far north Alaska Dispatch Yereth Josette Rosen, Arctic editor/reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

Health stories from the Arctic/circumpolar region. Some concern Native traditional diets and the benefits and drawbacks -- for the Native population and the wider general population. Others have an indigenous focus as well -- concerning modern research into a medicinal tradition, and a little-known genetic intolerance of table sugar.

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San Antonio Police's Radical Approach To Mental Illness Kaiser Health News Jenny Gold, correspondent (with Dianne Webber, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

These two radio stories aired just after the Ferguson shooting and the 2nd one aired the same day a St. Louis police officer shot and killed a clearly mentally ill black man just a few miles from Ferguson. Jenny Gold's stories provide a sharp contrast, especially for police dealing with mentally ill people who commit crimes. While Texas ranks 49th out of 50 states in how much per-capita funding it commits to mental health, San Antonio police, hospitals, jails and county officials have worked together to build a mental health system considered a model for other cities across the country. The effort has focused on an idea called “smart justice” – basically, diverting people with serious mental illness out of jail and into treatment. And it has saved $50 million over the past five years. It was a tough struggle to get there, but now San Antonio is emerging as a shining example for other cities to follow (see results, below).

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April Dembosky's 2014 Body of Work KQED Public Radio April Dawn Dembosky, Health Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

"The health beat at KQED is wide ranging. I am the only health reporter at the station and am tasked with covering policy, public health, the business of health care, and consumer features. This year, I focused most of my work on health care economics, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on businesses, consumers, and even workers' unions. These four stories represent the range of topics and styles I covered throughout the year: *"Check Your Blood Pressure, (Unwittingly) Sell Your Contact Information" exposed privacy violations of a company that operates health kiosks at local supermarkets, and served as a warning to consumers who did not realize that the kiosk company was selling their personal data to health insurers. Cautionary tales like this take on great importance with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, as more insurers are looking for ways to market to consumers directly. *"Missteps in Covered California’s Marketing Campaign to Latinos" outlined the mistakes of California's health insurance marketplace in trying to enroll a critically important demographic into coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Latinos are younger and healthier than the general population, so government officials are depending on their enrollment to keep costs down for everybody. *"Saline Shortage Plagues Hospitals" explains the complicated process of IV drug production, and dissects the many factors that led to the shortage of such a basic, simple medical supply, from FDA regulation to weather. *"Kaiser, Nurses Union Brace for Upcoming Contract Battle" was the first of many stories analyzing health care worker union tactics and the changing economic position of the hospitals where they work. This piece correctly predicted a contentious, ongoing union fight that has so far resulted in two strikes involving 18,000 nurses. Follow up pieces have deconstructed the motivations and tactics on both sides, including how the California and National nurses' unions used the Ebola scare in the the US to advance its goals in contract bargaining."

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Hep C, The Disease of a Generation Everyday Health Nils Hartley Kongshaug, Writer/Reporter (with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Correspondent; Michael Bush, Videographer/ Video Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

"This is a series of five linked videos, interviews and articles featuring CNN Medical Editor Dr. Sanjay Gupta, produced over four months. Its purpose - to educate the estimated 2 to 5 million Americans who are unaware they are infected with a deadly virus, for which there is now an effective cure. 1. "Hepatitis C - The Disease of a Generation" The story of Sheryl Miller, a typical patient, infected in the 70's by sharing needles, and only now showing symptoms. 2. "One Doctor's 35-Year 'Grudge Match' Against Hepatitis C" Dr. Douglas Dieterich changed the focus of his practice and his research after he became infected with Hep C himself. 3. "The Coming Crisis in Hepatitis C" 75% of those who are infected don't know it. They represent a potential public health crisis for this country. 4. "What Should You Do If You Test Positive for Hepatitis C" A positive result does not mean treatment must begin right away, but some changes need to be made. 5. "The ABCs of Hepatitis" The three hepatitis viruses we see in this country are A, B, and C. They are completely different diseases in everything but name."

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Risk/Benefit Analysis: A Deep Dive Into FDA Drug Regulations "The Pink Sheet" and "The Pink Sheet" DAILY" Sarah Karlin, Senior Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

I use my wide breadth of knowledge to keep my audience in the pharmaceutical industry informed of the latest developments of FDA policy that have a clear impact on their business and many people's personal health. This includes a focus on putting single events into a larger context and providing detailed analysis that my readers can act on. For example, among the many in-depth pieces I did In 2014, I exposed a regulatory gap in disease-awareness advertising regulation that may benefit drug companies but hurt patients. I also highlighted potential flaws in FDA's drug shortage prevention strategies, showed how reimbursement issues are creeping into FDA's arena despite the agency's lack of authority over drug prices, and uncovered conflicting FDA actions related to cardiovascular outcomes trials.

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A Rumored Case NPR Kelly McEvers McEvers, Corresopndent (with Rebecca Hersher, Producer; Vikki Valentine, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

"In March 2014, Ebola was first found in rural Guinea and spread to rural Liberia. Then by the summer, as people came to Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to seek care, Ebola started growing exponentially there. By November, sick people were going back to their villages, causing hotspots of the disease in rural areas that had been fine. Epidemiologists call it "ping-ponging." This story takes listeners on a journey to understand how this happens -- and how to stop it."

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Denial of Care: Backlog at the VA The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Brad Schrade, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

Over a six month period, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Brad Schrade exposed deep flaws across the VA’s national health enrollment system that delayed care for hundreds of thousands of veterans. The AJC’s reporting revealed that as many as 890,000 veterans were trapped in a health application backlog overseen by the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta. That backlog included 47,000 veterans who died while stuck on the list, raising the likelihood that some died while waiting for care from the VA. A new online enrollment system that agency leaders touted as a faster way for veterans to enroll in the VA health system, in fact, was slower and exacerbated the application backlog. Internal documents obtained by the AJC showed that even though officials knew about these flaws, they continued for years to mislead veterans about the online system. The reporting also revealed evidence that more than 10,000 veterans’ health applications were improperly purged by the Atlanta center, that 39,000 applications went unprocessed and that managers had an incentive to hide problems in order to meet performance goals and secure bonuses.

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On the Front Lines: For Want of Gloves, Ebola Doctors Die The Wall Street Journal Drew Hinshaw, West Africa reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

Rubber gloves were nearly as scarce as doctors in rural Liberia, so Dr. Melvin Korkor would swaddle his hands in plastic grocery bags to care for patients. That typical type of care proved fatal when Ebola arrived. A basic lack of sanitary wear -- starting with gloves -- allowed the worst Ebola outbreak in history to shut down hospitals, forcing the sick to stay at home, spreading the virus.

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New Jersey health policy beat NJ Spotlight Andrew S. Kitchenman, healthcare writer 2014 Beat Reporting

"Affordable Care Act Outreach Remains Spotty in Some Parts of NJ" examined geographic gaps in the coverage of federally funded navigators and assisters for enrolling in health insurance. It found that one county wasn't served by any of the funded agencies. "Merger of Two Hospitals Could Increase Quality, but Also Concentrate Power" examined both the potential positive and negative effects of a proposed hospital merger. An expert on hospital concentrations raised concerns about the market power of the proposed combined system. "Is Christie Calling the Shots When It Comes to NJ's Quarantine Policies" looked at the apparent difference between how Gov. Chris Christie was handling the Ebola quarantine and the state's established quarantine policy. "High-Profile Couple Will Have to Tiptoe Through Ethical Minefield" included interviews raising concerns about the ethical implications about the spouse of the state's top hospital regulator taking a hospital job."

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Food Insecurity's Lingering Impact on Children PBS NewsHour Jason Alan Kane, Reporter-Producer (with Jason Lelchuk, Camera; Dan Knapp, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

"For a nation that produces more food per person than any other in the world, the United States has a major problem with hunger -- and it only grew worse during the recent recession and its aftermath. Close to 50 million people in the U.S. are living with food insecurity, meaning they don't always have adequate nutrition for an active and healthy life. Children have been hit particularly hard, with about a quarter living in families that don’t always know when or if they will eat their next meal. To illustrate the scope of this growing American inequality, PBS NewsHour traveled to Orange County, Calif. -- a community famous for showcasing its wealth in television shows like “The OC” and “The Real Housewives.” In the neighborhoods surrounding Disneyland, we explored a stunning contradiction: Orange County is among the top 10 places in the U.S. for childhood hunger. That’s according to the anti-hunger group Feeding America. Nearly 400,000 people in the county -- and 1 in 5 children -- classify as “food insecure.” Michele Cummings, a local mother, helped us to examine the long-term consequences of that reality. Cummings lives in the Tina Pacific neighborhood of Anaheim. Just 17 miles from Newport Beach, where average home prices top $2 million, Anaheim’s subdivisions are filled with low-wage workers who prop up the county’s luxury economy but often struggle to support their own families. When it comes to feeding her daughter, Cummings, like most of her neighbors, once compensated with an over-reliance on cheap, processed foods that were often barren of real nutrients. Even as she was buying those foods, Cummings worried about the implications. And for good reason. Recent research suggests that a number of factors converge for low-income families to create a paradoxical set of health issues, leading to both malnutrition and obesity, as well as a slate of other chronic diseases. Barbara Laraia of the University of California, Berkeley, helped us break down some of that research in the segment. NewsHour rarely highlights a dire problem without also looking at potential solutions. For that piece of the story, we met up with OC Health Officer Dr. Eric Handler, who had recently begun calling for local leaders to treat childhood hunger like a public health crisis. As Handler describes, he kicked off the movement by asking the head of a local food bank, "'If we were able to capture food that is wasted and direct it to people in need, could we end hunger in Orange County?’ And he said yes.” So Handler launched the “Waste Not OC” initiative, a multi-sector effort in which excess food from restaurants, resorts, sporting venues and schools is re-directed to food banks for distribution. “Waste Not OC” is representative of the grassroots efforts that are popping up in communities throughout the country, including community gardens, corner store conversions and new grocery stores in food deserts. But in most places, these initiatives are also relatively small-scale, and it’s highly questionable whether they will be the silver bullet that so many hope they will. For that reason, we also interviewed Dr. Phyllis Agran, one of the county's leading pediatricians, who has also been vocal in her belief that wider-spread change will only come if local, state and federal governments put their minds to the task and change policies. We believe the final piece illustrates the complexity of the issue while still showing that change is possible."

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Brenda Goodman - Body of Work WebMD Brenda Goodman, Senior News Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

Statins Early in my career as a health reporter, nearly every expert I interviewed about cholesterol-lowering statins would repeat some form of this quote: “Statins are so good we should be putting them in the water supply.” Twenty five years later, many experts have changed their tune on statins, choosing to believe patient experience over published research. This story looks at why more doctors have recently cast a more critical eye on these drugs, even as new guidelines have dramatically expanded the pool of people who are eligible to take them. The Race to Save Dr. Brantly—The Inside Story As soon as Dr. Kent Brantly landed at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, I knew I wanted the backstory. How did this missionary physician become the first person to be treated for Ebola in the U.S.? And how did he come to be the first human to take the experimental drug ZMapp? I suspected there had been a well-connected person with a medical background working at a high level at Samaritan’s Purse to save his life. I made dozens of phone calls to board members, focusing on those who had medical backgrounds. No one would call me back. But my research paid off. At an Emory press conference announcing Brantly’s release, I recognized Richard Furman, MD, who was a co-founder of Samaritan's Purse. He told me about Dr. Lance Plyler, the physician who had overseen Dr. Brantly’s care in Africa.I started trying to make contact. A month after I left messages for him on social media sites, Plyler called me back. In a stunning interview, he revealed details about the pressure to decide whether to use a promising, but untested treatment, the code name they used for Brantly to avoid causing a panic among western health care workers, and the tough decision he had to make to split the dose of the drug. Our entire news and web publishing team worked late on a Friday to rush the story to the site. As a result, we were the first media organization to have Plyler’s account, and we believe we were the first to have a named source describe some of the details about how the Zmapp was administered and the dramatic turnaround in his health after he took it. (CNN had previously published some details of the story that were attributed to an unnamed source.) Fear of Ebola Spreading Fasting than Virus Schools were closing, people who knew people who might possibly have been exposed were being asked to stay home from work. Despite frequent and clear assurances from health authorities that Ebola virus was difficult to catch, Ebola hysteria was out of control. After our editorial team heard some personal stories of lives being upended purely because of fear, we knew we needed a story that would attempt to explain why people were so afraid, without fanning the flames. The Promise and Perils of Brain Training Video games marketed by companies like Lumosity that promise to sharpen mental abilities have become big business. Some, like Pearson’s CogMed program, even promise to treat diseases like ADHD. But do they actually work? And who’s looking out for consumers? Our special report looked at who is selling and buying brain training games. We also talked to consumers who felt mislead and cheated. One family spent $10,000 to try to help their learning disabled daughter, with no results to show for it. When we confronted the company, they basically admitted that their program had done little to help this child.

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The New Heroin Epidemic Atlantic Olga Khazan, Staff Writer 2014 Public Health (large)

The story traces the evolution of the nation’s opioid epidemic--from prescription painkillers to heroin--through the lens of an opioid clinic in West Virginia, which for the past several years has had one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the nation. By examining the history of drugs like OxyContin, the article shows how prescription painkillers flooded this state and others, and how widespread addiction to the medications gradually morphed into the resurgence of heroin. Through interviews with local law enforcement, it shows how the crackdown on pill mills and unscrupulous doctors spurred painkiller addicts to turn to heroin for a cheaper, more accessible high. Like those in many areas around the country, West Virginia doctors and narcotics officers now say they’re witnessing a heroin crisis unseen since the 1980s. Finally, the stories of the patients at the clinic show how challenging it is to make a full recovery from opioid addiction.

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Abby Haglage's 2014 Body of Work on Ebola The Daily Beast Abby Haglage, Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

Abby Haglage is nominated for her reporting on the Ebola pandemic, from the disease’s discovery in the 1970s to the devastating 2014 outbreak in West Africa.

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Heart Disease: Lifesaving News for Men and Women AARP The Magazine Staff, Editor (with Mike Zimmerman, Writer; JoBeth McDaniel, Writer) 2014 Public Health (large)

Until just a few years ago, doctors thought that men’s and women’s hearts were virtually the same. Sure, women’s hearts were a little smaller than men’s, but they looked the same, and doctors assumed that they essentially worked—or didn’t work—in the same way. They were dangerously wrong. In “Heart Disease: Lifesaving News for Men and Women,” Mike Zimmerman and JoBeth McDaniel explore the biggest threats to men’s and women’s hearts. For women, it is the widespread and frightening misdiagnosis of heart disease—even advanced heart disease—in women, in part because the disease manifests itself so differently in women than in men. (The traditional tests for blockages often come out normal for women, even when their arteries are severely blocked.) For men, the biggest threat to their hearts is the dramatic rise in atrial fibrillation, a condition that raises your risk of a stroke fivefold. What’s more, doctors are seeing an uptick in A-fib among those who might seemingly be least at risk: healthy, active men under the age of 60. These two stories shed light on why these conditions are often misdiagnosed, the deadly consequences that can result, and what you need to know to protect your heart.

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A deeper look into the ACA and Medicaid Modern Healthcare Virgil Tibbs Dickson, Policy and Regulatory Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

So much of the focus when it’s come to the Affordable Care Act has been about how many have enrolled, and which states will expand Medicaid. I worked to go deeper to tell the untold stories about the unexpected consequences and benefits of the health reform law. Key findings: 1. Obamacare enrollees are straining the finances of community health centers around the country. The issue is that many lower-income patients with insurance coverage through the federal and state exchanges bought bronze-tier plans with lower premiums but high deductibles, coinsurance and copayments and no federal cost-sharing subsidies. When these patients face high out-of-pocket costs for care that falls below the deductible, they can't afford it. So the centers are subsidizing that care by offering them means-tested sliding-scale fees. When the centers, which are not allowed to turn away patients for inability to pay, try to get the insurers to pay, the claims are usually denied, and the centers have to write it off as uncompensated care. 2. A provision of the ACA allowed the CMS to create an initiative to coordinate the care of people dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Just over 9 million dual-eligibles account for 40% of all Medicaid spending and 27% of all Medicare spending, with their care costs totaling about $350 billion a year. Under this initiative, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia have opted to launch coordinated-care demonstrations. Demonstrations also are slated to begin in the coming months in Michigan, New York, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington. In November, the CMS uncovered evidence that some healthcare providers are illegitimately trying to dissuade dual-eligible beneficiaries from participating in the dual demonstrations. One reason for this is that the doctors preferred the fee for service model they are used to treating duals, vs the capitated model the duals demonstration operates under. 3. The number of Americans applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits dropped in the first six months in 2014 compared to the same period last year, and it’s possible that the decline is partly related to the healthcare reform law's Medicaid expansion to low-income adults. The possible link is that before the ACA qualifying for SSI benefits automatically made a person eligible for Medicaid in 39 states. It's thought that one major reason people apply for SSI is to receive Medicaid coverage. But with the Medicaid expansion to low-income adults this year under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, people in expansion states no longer have to apply for SSI to get Medicaid. 4. Many states are struggling to re-enroll adults and children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, with hundreds of thousands of current beneficiaries at risk of losing coverage, advocates say. The enrollees who are at greatest risk are those who were enrolled in Medicaid prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the establishment of a new formula to define household income under the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) standard. The problem in re-enrolling such beneficiaries is that these pre-ACA enrollees do not necessarily understand their states' requests for additional information, which is needed to determine if they are still eligible for Medicaid under the new MAGI standard.

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After the Fall The New York Times Katie Hafner, Reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

The two articles and sidebar focused on the dramatic increase in the number of older Americans who fall and suffer serious, even fatal injuries. The population is aging, and people are living longer in bad shape. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for people over 65. The first piece focused on the balance that retirement communities, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes try to achieve between assuring safety and allowing their residents to live as they choose. The second followed one 79-year-old woman and the aftermath of a fall she took in 2013. The sidebar offered suggestions on preventing falls. The online version of the article included videos showing stairs and toilet seats as they appear through aging eyes; the videos made clearer why falls happen. An 85-year-old with glaucoma or cataracts will see things very differently than a 55-year-old with relatively healthy eyes.

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Terhune-beat-reporting Los Angeles Times Chad Terhune, Staff Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

As a healthcare beat reporter, 2014 posed the unique challenge of covering the biggest expansion of insurance coverage in nearly half a century while also keeping readers informed about other significant changes across the industry. The launch of a state-run exchange, Covered California, was a huge story, and Chad Terhune provided authoritative and comprehensive coverage on the rollout. He chronicled the struggles of the state marketplace as it coped with cranky computers, overburdened call centers and weak outreach to uninsured Latinos. He kept tabs on premiums and the troubled provider networks. Terhune never lost sight of the consumers for whom all this was no idle concern. His stories were laced with anecdotes, quotes and color that brought these issues to life. Early on, he recognized that nothing was of greater concern to many consumers than how to find and get the doctors they wanted. It turned out to be a crapshoot, for many – as Terhune documented in stories again and again. Directories of doctors were incorrect and out-of-date. Doctors turned away patients – even though they were listed as part of the network. Consumers often were stuck with huge bills as a result. Terhune broke the news in June that regulators were investigating two giant insurers over this matter and did a front-page story in November on the high error rates found by officials. Recognizing the lack of accurate information in one place, Terhune used public records to assemble and publish a statewide database in September of physicians participating in Covered California for 2015. With help from the newsroom data team, Terhune did for readers what the state couldn't do for its citizens. At year end, he wrote about the financial windfall many hospitals and insurers reaped from the health law, and examined to what extent that Obamacare dividend was being shared with employers and consumers after years of cost shifting. Amid the crush of health-law coverage, Terhune produced other compelling stories from the beat. He had an exclusive story on a whistleblower trial and $10 million settlement involving financial conflicts of interest at a top medical school. Terhune chronicled a new and unusual development in the battle between two major health plans, Anthem and Kaiser. He explained what was driving it and the implications for workers, employers and hospitals.

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Condoms in the Clink Freelance George Lavender, Reporter (with Caroline Preston, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

In 2014 California became the second state after Vermont to officially provide inmates with condoms as a public health measure. Nationally, one in seven people living with HIV passes through a correctional facility each year, according to the CDC, and prisoners are disproportionately at risk of other sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and hepatitis C. In California alone, more than 1,000 prisoners are known to be HIV positive. One of the reasons other states have been slow to follow Vermont's lead is because sex is prohibited in prisons and jails across the US. This report highlighted the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases among prisoners, including recent findings regarding the large number of HIV cases amongst California prisoners, and information about a previously underreported syphilis outbreak in Californian prisons. Unusually the article featured prisoners themselves sharing their attitudes to condom distribution and sex in prison.

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Public Health Threats: The West Explosion and Ebola The Dallas Morning News Sue Ambrose, Staff Writer 2014 Beat Reporting

All stories were written by Sue Ambrose, Staff Writer, The Dallas Morning News. 1. West Explosion, One Year Later: Official toll overlooks many injuries. 2. Uncounted Casualties. Profiles of three men with uncounted injuries from West explosion. (Video embedded online.) 3. Lessons don’t always stick after Ebola outbreaks. 4. When Ebola hit U.S., CDC guidelines were weaker than those 15 years ago. I am an investigative reporter with a specialty in science and medicine. These stories have a common thread: By delving into published medical research, I identified shortcomings in how health experts either responded to or prepared for two recent threats to public health in Texas: The fatal explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, and the Ebola crisis in Dallas. In West, state and local health officials were slow to document injuries from the explosion that killed 15 and injured hundreds. When they did, their investigation – which focused on physical injuries --was incomplete. The survey also completely ignored mental health issues. On my own, I identified uncounted injuries and pushed the number of injured people from about 260 to more than 300. A sidebar, with an embedded video that’s viewable online (see link in pdf) describes three men with uncounted injuries. When Ebola hit Dallas this fall, local officials assured citizens that they could treat the disease safely, thanks to the country’s modern healthcare system. I found that the initial misdiagnosis and subsequent infection of healthcare workers that occurred in Dallas was eerily similar to past outbreaks in rural Africa. I also found that the CDC guidelines to protect medical workers were weaker when the Dallas patient was diagnosed than they had been 15 years ago.

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Changing Minds WRC-TV Michael Goldrick, Vice President of News (with Lauren Dunn, Senior Producer; Doreen Gentzler, Anchor and Medical Reporter) 2014 Public Health (large)

Changing Minds is a series of stories dedicated to breaking the stigma around mental illness. Since the project was launched last May, we’ve aired more than 50 stories covering a range of issues including failures in the system, personal stories of hope and success and programs that are improving patients’ lives. This entry is a 30-minute program highlighting some of the biggest issues not just in the Washington, D.C. area, but across the country. It’s also meant to start a dialogue in our community. Basically, we wanted to get people talking about a topic that’s tough to talk about. We’re starting to accomplish our goal. In the months following the launch of Changing Minds, we’ve received countless viewer emails, phone calls and letters from people not only thanking us for our coverage, but wanting to share their own stories and battles with mental illness. We believe this has been tantamount to our success. People are finally talking about a topic that’s been taboo for years, and that’s the best way to find solutions.

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THE AIR WE BREATH The Dallas Morning News Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental writer 2014 Beat Reporting

All stories were written by Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer, The Dallas Morning News. 1. Dallas-Fort Worth could be an important ozone test case 2. Industries, TCEQ fight study linking death, ozone 3. Dallas Ebola case shows even sound plans can fail spectacularly 4. In health crises, information – and misinformation – fly All four stories deal with health science’s struggle to inform major public policies against seemingly insurmountable odds. Two stories describe a direct conflict between health science and political influence. In urban North Texas, nearly 7 million people breathe air with harmful levels of ozone, which recent research has linked to respiratory problems, asthma attacks, new-onset asthma, heart attacks and even death. Yet Texas state leaders, rather than aggressively pursuing every possible improvement in air quality in the name of public health, are taking the opposite tack. One story found that the state’s claim that air quality has already improved enough to protect the public is without scientific basis. The story also examined the constant efforts to undermine the scientific integrity of a federal review process. Another story exposed the state’s silent partnership with major polluting industries in seeking to raise doubts in the public mind about air pollution’s health damage, exemplified by a concerted attack on one key study. Two other stories examine neglected aspects of an otherwise intensely publicized public-health crisis, Dallas’ Ebola cases. One story explored the psychological, social, and organizational factors that can wreck frontline public-health defenses or other kinds of ostensibly good plans, shown in this case by a hospital’s failure to recognize an Ebola patient who presented at its ER. The other story looked at the CDC’s faltering efforts to adapt its strategies and responses to a lightspeed culture of information and misinformation, one in which every slipup can become instant, worldwide news and derail progress during an emergency.

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Forgotten? Syria's Children of War Employee, Correspondent Nancy Lynn Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor (with Ami Schmitz, Senior Medical Producer; David Lom, Cameraman) 2014 Public Health (large)

"Nowhere is the urgency for public health outreach more apparent than during a refugee crisis. To mark the third anniversary of the Syrian Civil War, NBC News Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman and her team travelled to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in March 2014. By then, the war’s collateral damage had extended to 5.5 million Syrian refugee children who were homeless, malnourished, under-vaccinated, and pouring across the border into Lebanon. NBC News committed itself to showing the plight of the refugees in a real-time arc and convey to our viewers, what many consider to be, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Dr. Snyderman and her team accomplished this by producing a "live documentary" spanning 48 hours of coverage, airing on TODAY, Nightly News and NBCNews.com with live webcasts, articles and blogs. In her reporting, Dr. Snyderman related to the refugee children and their families as a reporter, doctor and mother and underscored the toll this war was taking as a medical crisis. Fragile health systems have crashed and on the Lebanese side of the border, are overwrought and burdened. Dr. Nancy Snyderman was given unprecedented access inside The Taanayel Hospital for refugees. She profiled doctors and nurses who faced extraordinary burdens of patients and exercised heroic efforts to keep the population well. When a child was suspected of having polio, she was able to explain how Syria’s once proud health care system had been decimated and was there when representatives from the WHO came to investigate. The team followed families from the hospital back to refugee camps where groups of children who, once in school, were now digging potatoes out of the ground to feed their families. Meanwhile NGOs attempted to keep infectious disease at bay with ongoing inoculation campaigns, and Syrian women gave birth to babies with birth defects all because there was an absence of prenatal care. The team eye witnessed birth and death; fear and grief, and the resilience necessary for survival . The Snyderman team also carried out an unparalleled social media and engagement strategy bringing viewers inside the tragedy and posing viewers’ questions to the refugees that they met. They did this through two live webcasts; the first webcast originated from the overcrowded Taanayel Hospital, and the second revealed the horrors of starting life over in the desolate Fayda Refugee Camp. Online coverage complemented and enhanced Dr. Snyderman’s reporting, bringing her audience additional insight on childhood trauma, the impact of being under-vaccinated and malnourished and aid workers who dedicated themselves to play and laughter in hopes of healing traumatized children. The “live documentary” effort was a broadcast and digital age first. NBC News is proud to submit "Forgotten? Syria's Children of War" for the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism."

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Suncoast Health Reporting WWSB TV Alix Redmonde, Health and Medical Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

"Deep Brain Stimulation Helps a Parkinson's Sufferer," 3/10/2014--A Suncoast woman claims she is symptom free thanks to this procedure. "Are We Over-medicating Our Seniors?" 5/20/2014--We talk to local seniors and healthcare providers for the answer. "New Tool to Treat Atrial Fibrillation," 6/05/2014--A local Suncoast physician pioneers for treating AFib. We went into the OR with Dr. Dilip Mathew for a demonstration. "VA Medical Appointment Issues Touch the Suncoast," 6/24/2014--One Suncoast vet spent more than 40 years collecting his medical records so he can seek VA treatment."

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In Crisis: A Special Report on the Mental-Illness Epidemic in Central Florida Orlando Sentinel Jeffrey John Kunerth, senior writer (with Kate Santich, senior writer) 2014 Public Health (large)

This series looked at the issue of mental illness in the community from the perspective of people who suffer from the disease; the loved ones of people with mental illness; the police who have become the front line of Florida's mental health system; the jails that have replaced mental institutions; the impact one mentally ill person has on a neighborhood; and what Florida, which ranks 49th in funding, can do to provide better care for the mentally ill. The significant findings include the number of mental illness calls to law enforcement and the cost of treating the mentally ill in the Orange County Jail, which is now the largest mental-health care provider in Central Florida. Most significant, though, were the personal, intimate and painful stories of people with mental illness who were willing to step forward to publicly talk about something that is still shrouded in shame.

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Obamacare Beat Reporting Southern California Public Radio Stephanie Anna O'Neill, Health Care Correspondent 2014 Beat Reporting

Personalizing the Affordable Care Act can be a challenge and that has been my goal in covering the ACA as my primary beat for SCPR. In one story we hear how the narrowing of provider networks is affecting folks with complicated medical conditions; In another we learn how the federal health law has opened up new life opportunities for folks, including the ability to quit jobs and go into early retirement, start new businesses and even leave dead-end marriages; another story takes us into the lives of those who are unaware of the ACA requirement that they have health insurance or pay a penalty and the last is about how some are now paying more for insurance and why.

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Hooked: America's Heroin Epidemic NBC News Kate Snow and Janet Klein 2014 Public Health (large)


Place: Second Place

In a wide-ranging series of reports across all the platforms of NBC News, a team of producers and reporters set out to explore the depth of the heroin epidemic in the United States. The number of heroin users in America nearly doubled from 2007-2012, and every other leading indicator has increased sharply, as well – from arrests and drug seizures to treatment populations to deaths. The team wanted to put a face on the problem, search for potential solutions, and challenge outdated assumptions about the crisis in this country.

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Unchecked Care Star Tribune Chris Serres, Topics Reporter 2014 Beat Reporting

1. Facts in senior’s rape case withheld. An investigation into the rape of an 89-year-old resident of a northern Minnesota senior home found that administrators at the home withheld key information and did not notify state authorities until two days after the rape. Despite these failings, the state found that only the individual was responsible for abuse and not the facility. The report analyzed state data and found the state investigated only a fraction of complaints, and rarely found findings of maltreatment. 2. Abuse, neglect tarnish assisted-living homes - An in-depth review of hundreds of state inspection reports from seven states found widespread incidents of abuse and neglect at a large operator of senior homes in the Midwest. Residents at Edgewood Vista assisted-living homes across the Midwest were slapped, pinched, taunted and allowed to wander away unnoticed. Yet the company was not sanctioned for these and more than 50 other violations. The investigation found that the lack of disciplinary action is common in the assisted-living industry which lacks the same level of regulatory scrutiny as nursing homes.

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Gunmen wreak havoc in Caracas ERs Associated Press Hannah Marisa-Paz Dreier, Correspondent 2014 Public Health (large)

AP provided the first board look at how the country's crisis of violence is affecting its public health care sector. We used anecdotes and hard data to show that a culture of impunity is undermining the health care system by driving away doctors, terrorizing hospital staff, and in some cases, leading to emergency room slayings. We hung the story on a hospital killing that scandalized a country that is mostly sleepwalking through a homicidal bloodbath. Through intense source work, we were able to publish the only eyewitness account. The government, which almost always ignores the foreign press, responded to the story two days after it was published.

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Beat Reporting Stories Inside Health Policy Amy Louise Lotven, Reporter/Editor 2014 Beat Reporting

"These stories reflect our work covering how CMS dealt with the thousands of Americans who had data-matching problems (aka "inconsistencies") on their applications to enroll in ACA coverage."

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Poor oral health among Natives linked to commercial tobacco use Freelance Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, Correspondent 2014 Public Health (large)

With usage rates exceeding 50 percent in some states' Native communities, the story outlines the impact that commercial tobacco use has on oral health while making a point to differentiate regular recreational use from tobacco's traditional role in many tribes' ceremonies.

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Babies Inc.: The big business of little patients Freelance Alex Halperin, Freelance reporter 2014 Business (large)

The story discusses the economics of hospital care for very sick children and the effect on their families.

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How Denmark solved its salmonella problem The Oregonian Lynne Terry, Staff writer 2014 Public Health (large)

In the U.S., the USDA acknowledges that salmonella is a problem, with the prime culprit being poultry. But federal officials and industry say the bacteria, which sicken more than 1 million people a year, cannot be eliminated from chickens. A study of Denmark shows that's not the case. A surge of salmonella cases in the late 1970s prompted the government, industry and retailers to work together to eradicate the bacteria from chickens. The Danes used a top-down approach, eliminating salmonella in breeders, they enacted tight biosecurity measures and protected feed and water.

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New Hepatitis-C drug raises hope at a hefty price The PBS NewsHour Merrill Schwerin, Producer (with Hari Sreenivasan, Senior Correspondent; Linda Winslow, Executive Producer) 2014 Business (large)

"When new drugs are both effective and expensive In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved two drugs for the treatment of Hepatitis C. Both have had dramatic results. One drug, Sovaldi, is 90% effective in curing Hep C in patients given a daily pill for 12 weeks, according its manufacturer Gilead Sciences. But, while the statistics clearly show a positive development for patients, the drugs successes have also raised some tough ethical questions. Sovaldi costs $1,000 a day. Such high costs have insurers evaluating what coverage they should allow for. Three million Americans are infected with Hepatitis C. Existing drugs are 65-70% effective. Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of State Medicaid Directors, said it's likely the new hepatitis C medications will be part of a new wave of extremely expensive, complex, "specialty" medications. "The country needs to have a public discussion about what taxpayers are willing to pay for, at what point do we say, 'We can't do this for everybody?"

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Mother's Mind The New York Times Pam Belluck, Reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

The series showed that maternal mental illness is much more common and varied than previously thought. -- About half of major postpartum depression cases actually begin during pregnancy. -- Women can develop psychiatric symptoms months after the official window of four to six weeks after childbirth. -- These illnesses often involve multiple disorders, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. -- Untreated symptoms can affect children’s emotional and cognitive development. -- Scientific underpinnings are complex. Many cases seem to spring from nowhere. -- Health providers often fail to detect trouble early or ensure that women get help. The stories required months of sensitive reporting and blended medical reporting with on-the-record stories of women who suffered maternal mental illness and experienced devastating symptoms.

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"The For-Profit Prescription" The Record (North Jersey Media Group) Lindy Washburn, Senior Writer 2014 Business (large)

"For-profit companies have targeted several bankrupt or failing New Jersey hospitals for takeover. This three-day series explained how they have made, or plan to make, a profit -- and what that means for patients and taxpayers. Day One, "As investors buy struggling hospitals, big change comes to NJ healthcare," explained how some operators have taken advantage of a state regulation intended to protect patients and charged insurers exorbitant amounts for "out-of-network" care. Day Two, "A new playbook for hospitals," explained other elements in the for-profit operators' strategies, from land swaps to specialization in car-insurance cases; a sidebar looked at the political operatives that for-profit companies have hired to help smooth the way with state agencies. Day Three, "Hospital critics call for more disclosure," looked at NJ's weak efforts to regulate the new owners and see where the money goes."

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Rx for the Bx WNYC Radio Amanda Aronczyk, Reporter (with Karen Frillman, Editor; Mary Harris, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

For the last five years, the Bronx has ranked as the least-healthy county in New York State. The Bronx stands out nationally for healthcare challenges that are especially difficult to tackle: heart disease, diabetes and asthma, all exacerbated by socio-economic issues like high unemployment and poor housing. Last year, WNYC Radio spent 6 months looking at the interplay of these substantial health challenges with the Bronx’s history, housing, employment, educational opportunities and food access. We reported on the challenges as well as the innovative solutions currently underway. Over a week of programming, we tackled this urgent question: what will heal the Bronx?

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Power of Price The Miami Herald Daniel Chang, Staff Writer (with Sammy Mack, Reporter, WLRN; Amy Driscoll, Editor, The Miami Herald) 2014 Business (large)

The stories explained to readers the lack of transparency that exists for all consumers when they pay for healthcare. Even large, public employers with self-funded health plans that use taxpayer money, such as Miami-Dade County, which spends more than $400 million a year on employee health claims, are not privy to the prices negotiated between healthcare providers and insurers. The stories explained how the system works, and why the lack of transparency makes it nearly impossible for consumers, especially large employers, to design cost-saving strategies, or to even identify the high-priced healthcare providers in their market and create incentives for employees to use lower-priced providers. The story also examined the sometimes extreme and often unwarranted variations in prices for the same procedures at different facilities.

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Surviving through age 18 in Detroit The Detroit News Karen Bouffard 2014 Public Health (large)


Place: Third Place

This began as a project with USC-Annenberg’s National Health Journalism Fellowship and grew into a yearlong series focused on maternal and child health in Detroit. Bouffard's goal was to quantify how the hardships and health risks faced by Detroit children impact their chances of surviving childhood.

She collected and analyzed data on Detroit child deaths through age 18 from all causes and found that prematurity and homicide are the greatest causes of child deaths in the city. Working with state health department across the country, Bouffard collected data on child death rates in other large cities and found that Detroit has the highest total child death rate, and the highest child homicide rate, among all cities its size and larger in the United States. The findings were published in an initial two-day special report that focused on the deadly combination of health risks in Detroit, and projects underway to improve maternal and child health, improve access to health care, and heal families affected by trauma. The continuing series honed in on other aspects of Detroit’s public health crises, from high rates of abortion and maternal death caused by lack of access to health care, to tens of thousands of Detroit kids with untreated asthma.

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The $3 billion company that got away The Buffalo News Stephen T. Watson, Business reporter 2014 Business (large)

Part I: Recounts the story of a Buffalo neurologist, Dr. Lawrence Jacobs, who doggedly pursued an unorthodox treatment for multiple sclerosis, without the backing of the larger scientific community. That work, supported by Buffalo philanthropists, led to the development of Avonex, an MS drug that few people in Buffalo realize earns Biogen Idec, a Cambridge, Mass., drug company $3 billion per year in revenue. But Buffalo has received little benefit from Avonex. Part II: Explores whether, if the next Dr. Jacobs toiling away in a lab on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus comes up with a similar medical breakthrough, would the jobs and revenues created by the drug stay in Buffalo this time? The public and private sector partners who have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in biomedical research facilities in Buffalo certainly hope so. But it’s unclear whether enough has changed, because biotech hubs such as Research Triangle, N.C., have such a head start on Buffalo.

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Panic in the Parking Lot National Public Radio Rebecca Anne Davis, Producer/Reporter (with Vikki Valentine, Editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

This is the story of an American doctor who was consulting with a hospital in Monrovia Liberia about general emergency management issues when the hospital's first Ebola patient turned up in the emergency department. This was a hospital completely unprepared for Ebola. Over the next 40 minutes, the American doctor tells a detailed and gripping story about how he and his Liberian colleagues worked desperately to isolate and treat the extremely ill patient without infecting themselves or others. Unfortunately, their efforts weren't enough. And as has been the case with so many health care workers, most of the medical staff on hand that day caught Ebola and died a few weeks later.

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Is this the end for hospital charity care? Becker's Healthcare Ayla Ellison, Finance Editor 2014 Business (large)

As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, millions have signed up for health plans through the health insurance exchanges, with more than 80 percent of new enrollees eligible for subsidized coverage. The reform law has also had a significant impact on enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. With all of the new opportunities for low- and middle-income people to gain health coverage, some hospitals and health systems are making significant changes to their charity care programs. However, for those who don't qualify for subsidies or Medicaid, the scaled back financial assistance programs are leaving them with no options for help with their medical bills or their health insurance premiums.

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Super Utlizers FOX31 Denver christopher j halsne, investigative reporter (with Isaias Medina, Investigative videographer/editor) 2014 Public Health (large)

This ground-breaking television investigation puts a face on the most expensive public health problem in Colorado – a little known group of extremely costly Medicaid patients’ nicknamed “super utilizers.” FOX31 Denver Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne acquired a list of patients who cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year even though they were not critically ill. He spent months balancing privacy rights with the public’s right to know. In the end, Mark Whitney’s story spoke for them all.

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Precious Pills Bloomberg News Robert Langreth 2014 Business (large)


Place: First Place

Everyone knows drug prices are going up, but it is hard to find specific data showing just how fast some individual prices are rising. In a breakthrough analysis, Bloomberg tracked down historical data for all big-selling brand name drugs in the U.S. and found dozens whose price had doubled in just seven years. As a result of the soaring prices, we found that patients increasingly encounter tough measures by insurers, including outright bans. In some cases, the prices are so high – $5,000 a month or more – that patients who are covered still can't afford copays that are based on a percentage of the price.

Judges' comments: Langreth's reporting established that dozens of best-seller brand-name drugs for cancer, arthritis and other diseases have been marked up 200% or more in the past seven years by corporations trying to maintain their profit margins as other drugs go off-patent. To show the markup, Langreth had to track down a drug-price database through a subscriber willing to disclose it. He talked to many patients who needed to stay on the drugs but found it difficult or impossible to pay the marked-up rates. His series was followed by other news outlets – notably, 60 Minutes – and Senate hearings. In pursuing the story, Langreth says he spoke to more than 110 doctors and industry experts.

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National Deaf Academy NBC News Aliza Nadi, Producer / Reporter (with Stephanie Gosk, Correspondent; Mark Schone, Managing Editor, Digital Investigations) 2014 Public Health (large)

The National Deaf Academy in Mt. Dora, Florida is a residential treatment center that specializes in caring for children and adults with autism, hearing loss and other behavioral conditions. Some parents who at first thought the facility might be a refuge for their kids, however, came to believe instead that their children had suffered abuse and neglect. An exclusive NBC News report revealed that the facility was under investigation by the FBI for alleged abuse and neglect. The NBC News report also found that the families of 10 different NDA patients had alleged physical abuse to a government-funded advocacy group within the past year, and that three families had filed lawsuits. Two former staffers turned whistleblowers told NBC News that they had witnessed bruising, black eyes and chokeholds, and alleged they had been told to cover up the potential misconduct by not reporting allegations to authorities. One of the staffers said conditions at NDA were a “perfect storm of abuse by kids who are deaf in a dangerous program.” A painstaking review of public records, many obtained by FOI requests, pointed to a troubling pattern at the facility. Three patient deaths have been alleged in lawsuits and state reports, and the state’s Department of Children and Families launched 99 investigations between 2004 and 2014. A review of police records showed that officers had been called to the facility more than 500 times between 2008 and 2013, resulting in 54 different police investigations, half of them for charges of alleged battery, abuse or sexual abuse. Reporter Stephanie Gosk interviewed the parents of the former patients who alleged neglect and abuse. She also demanded accountability from NDA’s parent company and from NDA management. She confronted the center’s former top official about conditions at the facility after two ex-employees alleged that that management tried to cover up abuse. Since her report aired, more parents have pulled their children out of NDA, and the center’s population has dropped. The state of New Jersey cited the FBI probe revealed by NBC in removing its children from the treatment center. Other parents have approached NBC News with claims that their children suffered abuse and neglect at the facility. The former top official of the school whom Gosk confronted in the report also left the Florida treatment center where she worked at the time of our broadcast after only six months on the job. In addition to the broadcast on Nightly News, an extensive online article detailing the findings of the NBC News investigation was published on NBCNews.com. The NBC News reports gave a voice to victims who often cannot speak for themselves, and had been hidden from society’s view. We believe that the broadcast was a service to parents who find themselves in a challenging situation, and are desperate for quality care. It has caused both the parents and referring agencies around the country to think twice about placing vulnerable kids in an institution with a questionable standard of treatment.

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"Health Secrets for Sale" Bloomberg News Shannon Pettypiece, Reporter 2014 Business (large)

"Your health information is considered so private that medical professionals are legally prohibited from sharing it without permission. Yet reporting by Shannon Pettypiece and Jordan Robertson in Bloomberg's series "Health Secrets For Sale" shows how detailed, identifiable health information on millions of Americans is being quietly scooped up and used by marketers, pharmaceutical companies, employers and hospitals to boost their profits. In one story, Pettypiece and Robertson show how a simple swipe of a credit card can tag someone with a disease and land them on a list of patients sold for pennies a name to marketers. They were the first to report how hospitals are tracking their patients' spending patterns -- from food bought at the grocery store to sizes of clothing purchased -- and shaping the care they receive accordingly. In another story, they show how pharmacy records protected by federal privacy laws are being sold to companies, such as Yahoo, and linked to an individual's online activity. Pettypiece was the first to disclose that detailed health information was stolen from Sony by hackers and how that could have implications for other companies. Finally, Pettypiece explored the vast amount of personal data being collected on employees through company wellness programs and the fears around how those millions of pieces of data could be used."

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Alarming losses The Columbus Dispatch Misti Crane, medical reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

In a three-day series exploring our community's deplorable infant mortality rate, Misti Crane told the stories of 16 of 81 families who lost a child in the first six months of 2014. She wrote to all 81 families, asking if they'd share their stories and a photo of the child they'd lost. She mapped the losses and highlighted the socioeconomic struggles in areas of Franklin County where infant deaths are more than triple the county average. Crane explored the greater toll that infant death takes on the African-American community and explained what is known about stopping these deaths. She spent time with those already working to help in her community and visited Baltimore, where significant strides already have been made. The stories that emerged put a face on a public health crisis, illustrated the role that race and place play in infant death rates and offered examples of work that can change our community for the better.

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Fortune: New Blood Fortune Roger Parloff, Senior Editor 2014 Business (large)

Reading Roger Parloff’s story about a revolutionary blood diagnostics company called Theranos is like traveling to an undiscovered country: It’s a populous, prosperous place, fully advanced, and yet it has developed, in its isolation, a different way of doing things the rest of us take for granted. Someday the company may have a large impact on the rest of the world, yet few people have even heard of it. There are amazements around every corner. Parloff’s cover story “New Blood” is about a business prodigy named Elizabeth Holmes and the medical diagnostic company, Theranos, that she founded at age 19. Today Holmes is 30, and in the intervening years she: —invented a method of testing blood that is painless, cheap, and much faster than the traditional needle-in-a-vein model; —invented and built machines to analyze blood samples, manufacturing everything in-house, right down to the screws; —built a company around this technology that employs 500 people and is valued at more than $9 billion; —persuaded George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, and Bill Frist, among others, to serve on its board; —and persuaded David Boies, the nation’s most eminent trial lawyer, to serve as its legal adviser. Parloff takes the reader on a fascinating exploration of this little world. It’s a tale chock-full of discovery, beautifully told.

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Collateral Damage The (Baltimore) Sun Andrea K. McDaniels 2014 Public Health (large)


Place: First Place

Crime in Baltimore has been chronicled extensively, but largely through the lens of the criminal justice system. Mostly invisible from the coverage are the stories of those left behind when the ambulances drive off and the crime scenes are cleaned up. The Baltimore Sun series "Collateral Damage" worked to tell those stories. The three-part series sought to show how violence in Baltimore has wreaked havoc on the health of tens of thousands of people that span generations. They are the kids who can’t concentrate in school because their bodies are stressed out from the constant sound of gunshots. They are the families who become instant caregivers to gunshot victims and the moms stunted by grief after losing their sons to murder. Among the personal stories of these groups, she presented the latest research on how the chronic stress of the situations impacted people's health. The series sought to shed light on a problem that is right before readers' eyes, but still so hidden from their consciousness.

Judges' comments: In Baltimore, violence has many victims. Many of them, though, are unseen. This series of articles tells the stories of the parents, siblings and children of violent crime victims – those who are left behind after the ambulance drives off – and how their suffering impacts their lives and heath. McDaniels weaves deep science reporting together with gripping human stories to shed light on this important but often overlooked public health issue.

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The changing hospital landscape: Memorial at the Crossroads Yakima Herald-Republic Molly Elizabeth Anne Rosbach, Health Care Reporter 2014 Business (large)

This two-day package analyzed the potential effects of a merger between a locally based nonprofit hospital with a much larger hospital based in Seattle. Such a merger/takeover would significantly alter the local hospital landscape, with effects on health care, jobs, physician and patient communities and the local economy.

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Doctors, medical staff on drugs put patients at risk USA TODAY Peter Eisler, Investigative Reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

This multi-media package revealed that more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides are abusing or dependent on prescription drugs in a given year, putting countless patients at risk for medical errors and mistreatment. The story examines the ways health care professionals steal or divert powerful painkillers, anti-anxiety medications and other pharmaceuticals from hospitals, pharmacies and patients to feed their own drug habits and addictions. And it finds that these care givers frequently practice under the influence of these drugs, including the performance of complex surgeries and other potentially dangerous procedures. Meticulously reported by staff writer Peter Eisler, the story uses an array of federal data and other records to document not only the scope of the drug problem among health care workers, but also its devastating consequences -- from botched surgeries to deadly infections spread by addicted practitioners who inject themselves with needles that are destined for use on unwitting patients. Eisler also convinced doctors and nurses to share their stories of addiction, often for the first time, and explain how they were able to steal drugs and treat patients while impaired. These accounts are captured in both the written story and in powerful video segments that accompany the piece on line. The story's findings are undisputed. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledge in the piece that there are significant gaps in the oversight systems that are meant to protect patients from doctors and other health care workers who practice under the influence of powerful painkillers and sedatives. And Eisler quotes a broad range of state regulators and law enforcement officials who confirm that drug use and diversion by health care workers is a largely hidden and profoundly dangerous threat to public health.

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Branding Health The GroundTruth Project STAFF, N/A 2014 Business (large)

In this 'Special Report' produced for GlobalPost, The GroundTruth Project investigated the increasing role of private corporations in global health, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last four decades, as foreign aid budgets have tightened, the United States government -- particularly the US Agency for International Development (USAID) -- has turned to the private sector, partnering with companies to utilize their expertise and vast resources in order to improve health outcomes in some of the world's poorest countries. Yet there is little measurement of the nature and efficacy of these collaborative efforts, and little accountability for their success. Our reporting sought to explain to a broad audience the US government’s rising reliance on public-private partnerships in its global health efforts, and to shed light on what these partnerships look like on the ground in an interactive, innovative multimedia series. The GroundTruth Project dispatched reporters to Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, and Tanzania to find out how four of the world's largest and most iconic corporations are working to improve global health. In Tanzania, we looked at Coca-Cola's ulterior motives for investing in water sanitation projects. In Cameroon, we considered how ExxonMobil's efforts to reduce malaria are at odds with the fossil fuel company's contributions to climate change. In the DRC we cast a close lens on a widely praised drug donation program led by pharmaceutical giant Merck. And in South Africa we explored how a Johnson and Johnson-backed mobile health program for pregnant women was poised for expansion despite only anecdotal evidence about its efficacy. We also reported from Washington and New York, and through months of research, dozens of interviews, and a FOIA request to USAID, we found that there are no standards for measuring the outcomes of these complicated partnerships, which have spent billions of dollars on public health projects around the world. Some of the partnerships proved successful, some blurred the line between philanthropy and corporate profit, and for others, the results remained unproven beyond anecdotal evidence. For all, the question remains: where do these partnerships cross the line between charity and business as usual? With the results of our FOIA request—data from USAID that was not previously publicly available—we created an interactive data visualization that maps the global health projects involving US Fortune 500 companies and documents how much public and private money is given to each project. Our findings suggest that there may be more faith in a business-supported policy initiative than outcomes can justify. Still little is known about the impact of PPPs and the implications for relying on corporations — with their own profit-seeking agendas — to improve global health.

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The View From Here: Who Cares Capital Public Radio Paul Conley, Co-producer (with Catherine Stifter, Co-producer; Joe Barr, Executive Producer) 2014 Public Health (large)

The View From Here: Who Cares is a first-person, multimedia documentary that explores the lives of family caregivers, often referred to as the “backbone” of the U.S. long-term health care system. These caregivers form a largely untrained, unpaid healthcare workforce totaling an estimated 5.8 million in California alone; providing an estimated $47 billion in care each year. Over the course of three months, our documentary team was given rare, unflinching access into the daily lives of three families caring at home for loved ones: from a sibling exercising the limbs of her sister who suffered a stroke; to a husband calming his wife’s dementia-driven anxiety; to parents changing the diaper of their 16-year-old, special needs boy. In the course of our reporting and recording we discovered that the joys and stresses of family life are amplified when a loved one needs care. Some caregivers described their family’s crisis as a blessing. But while caregiving can strengthen family ties, it takes a toll on the caregivers’ physical and mental health as well as financial stability. Self-care and respite are key components of healthy caregiving, but most caregivers say they have a tough time prioritizing their own health. These themes and more are woven throughout the stories of our featured families throughout the hour-long documentary, as are frequent reminders of the power of family, faith and love.

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MIA in the War on Cancer: Where Are the Low-Cost Treatments? ProPublica Jake Bernstein 2014 Business (large)


Place: Third Place

In the war against cancer, Pharma is betting on new blockbuster cancer drugs that cost billions to develop and can be sold for thousands of dollars a dose. Left behind are low-cost alternatives – often existing off-label medications, including generics – that have shown some merit but don't have enough profit potential for drug companies to invest in researching their anti-cancer properties. 

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Exposed: Decades of Denial on Poisons The Center for Public Integrity Kristen Lombardi, Senior Reporter (with David Heath, Senior Repoter; Jim Morris, Managing Editor, Environment) 2014 Public Health (large)

In 1948, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a report linking leukemia to benzene, a common solvent and an ingredient in gasoline. “It is generally considered,” he wrote, “that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero.” The report is remarkable not only because of its age and candor, but also because it was prepared for and published by the oil industry’s main lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute. This document and others like it bedevil oil and chemical industry executives and their lawyers, who to this day maintain that benzene causes only rare types of cancer and only at higher doses. Decades after its release, a lawyer for Shell Oil Company flagged the 1948 report as being potentially damaging in lawsuits and gave out instructions to “avoid unnecessary disclosure of sensitive documents or information” and “disclose sensitive benzene documents only on court order.” The Center for Public Integrity, along with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and The Graduate Center at the City University of New York, has made public some 20,000 pages of benzene documents — the inaugural collection in Exposed, a searchable online archive of previously secret oil and chemical industry memoranda, emails, letters, PowerPoints and meeting minutes. The aim is to make such materials — most of which were produced during discovery in toxic tort litigation and have been locked away in file cabinets and hard drives — accessible to workers, journalists, academic researchers and others. Combined with journalism from the Center, the archive sheds light on toxic substances that continue to threaten public health, including benzene. Over a year, the Center obtained and examined tens of thousands of pages of documents detailing the petrochemical industry’s campaign to undercut the science linking benzene to cancer. Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes suggest that America’s oil and chemical titans, coordinated by the American Petroleum Institute, spent at least $36 million on research “designed to protect member company interests.” Many documents chronicle an unparalleled effort by five major petrochemical companies to finance benzene research in Shanghai, China, where the pollutant persists in workplaces. Others attest to the industry’s longstanding interest in such “concerns” as childhood leukemia. Put in context by interviews with dozens of lawyers, scientists, academics, regulators and industry representatives, the documents depict a “research strategy” built on dubious motives, close corporate oversight and painstaking public relations. Among our key findings: • For decades, the petrochemical industry spent millions on science seeking to minimize the dangers of benzene, a carcinogen tied to leukemia and other cancers. • Our review of some 20,000 pages of internal records reveals the lengths to which the petrochemical industry went to rebut studies showing harmful effects of benzene in low doses. • While seeking funding, the industry’s lobby touted how the expected results of a proposed study in China could be used to reduce liability and combat stricter regulation. • Exposure to benzene in the womb or later during development has been tied to increased risk of leukemia in children. • The petrochemical industry’s sponsored science says data aren’t good enough to support the link between childhood leukemia and benzene; critics say this is a common industry tactic.

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Counterfeit spinal screws The Center for Investigative Reporting Christina Jewett, reporter (with Will Evans, reporter, CIR) 2014 Business (large)

This story uncovers the saga of a firm that made counterfeit spinal hardware used in surgeries nationwide. We started out looking at a lawsuit making broad and alarming claims about a fake hardware scam in Southern California. We decided to investigate the case on our own. We broke new ground, discovering that the hardware went far beyond California to a national network of doctors. We also found a company whistle blower who had begged the FDA to shut down the operation. Our reports uncover an operation that would be hard to believe if not for dozens of interviews and the review of hundreds of pages of documents. Our reporting led us to: - A South African spinal screw company owner who said he sent an auditor to repossess his firm’s products and found fakes mixed in with authentic screws - A patient who had spinal hardware from the company in question removed. We took photos of her hardware to the U.S. branch of the South Korean firm that made it. A manager there confirmed that the hardware was fake. - A company insider who described seeing sub-par hardware shipped across the U.S. and blowing the whistle to the FDA - A private plane pilot who detailed the lavish lifestyle of the company owner and gifts – including bundles of $100 bills – given out to doctors in the company’s network - A doctor who told us he earned hundreds of thousands in consulting fees and tickets to an NBA game from the company owner - A machinist who said the company approached him about making copies of spinal screws at his mom & pop machine shop

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A silent AIDS epidemic U-T San Diego Paul J Sisson, Health care reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

"A deep look at why HIV rates are increasing among young gay men. While the narrative has been that young gay men are less conscientious about using contraception because they are young enough to never have seen the horrors of full-blown AIDS, that is only part of the story. Today, with online dating the No. 1 way young gay men find potential partners, it is common for many to specify "no HIV positives" in their profiles. This creates a false sense of security and an incentive to lie about positive status."

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Big Data Peeps At Your Medical Records to Find Drug Problems National Public Radio Nell Greenfieldboyce, correspondent (with Alison Richards, editor) 2014 Business (large)

The Food and Drug Administration is increasingly relying on a big data system that can search through the medical records of approximately 180 million Americans to detect unforeseen problems with approved drugs that are on the market. It's a new approach that's potentially powerful, but the devil is in the details of how the searches get done. The FDA is collaborating with a nonprofit that's now studying how to best do this type of work--but NPR learned that its research effort is entirely funded by pharmaceutical companies. That raises questions of a conflict of interest that could limit how this new technique gets used to detect hidden dangers linked to the drugs in consumers' medical cabinets.

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Does Playing Football Make You Violent? Forbes Dan Diamond, Contributor 2014 Public Health (large)

My stories were the first national pieces to explore a connection between NFL players' high arrest rates for committing domestic violence and their high rate of head injuries, too. The stories concluded that a link, while still unproven, was highly plausible based on the types of injuries suffered and anecdotal evidence.

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After Checking Blood Pressure, Kiosks Give Sales Leads to Insurers KQED Public Radio April Dawn Dembosky, Health Reporter 2014 Business (large)

This story exposed privacy violations of a company that operates health kiosks at local supermarkets (think of those blood pressure cuffs you see next to the pharmacy aisle) and served as a warning to consumers who did not realize that the kiosk company was selling their personal data to health insurers. Cautionary tales like this take on great importance with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act, as more insurers are looking for new, aggressive ways to market themselves directly to consumers.

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As memories fade The Sacramento Bee Anita Creamer, Senior Writer 2014 Public Health (large)

Creamer set out to explore the unvarnished and intimate reality of Alzheimer's today, from the devastation of its onset to the energy of scientists working to unravel the mysteries of the aging brain -- to the tough decisions that families make as their parents and spouses grow more difficult, more frail and more remote from who they once were.

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The Medicare Advantage Money Grab The Center for Public Integrity Fred Schulte, David Donald and Erin Durkin 2014 Business (large)


Place: Second Place

“The Medicare Advantage Money Grab” revealed nearly $70 billion in “improper” Medicare payments to the health plans from 2008 through 2013. The investigation exposed how federal officials missed multiple opportunities to corral tens of billions of dollars in overcharges and other billing errors tied to inflated risk scores. We also showed how the industry has turned to questionable home visits and sophisticated “data mining” analysis of patient medical records to raise risk scores even further with little government oversight. Our analysis of risk score growth used government data for the first time to plot changes in risk scores at more than 5,700 health plans in 3,000 counties nationwide between 2007 and 2011. We published two interactive graphic devices that allowed readers to view these changes by county and states for the first time.

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Hallucinating Away a Heroin Addiction The Daily Beast Abby Haglage, Reporter 2014 Public Health (large)

Abby Haglage is nominated for her story on how a controversial drug, and a hallucinogenic African ritual, are being used to treat hardcore heroin addiction.

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Few and Far Between: Health Insurance Choices in Rural, Northern California Capital Public Radio Pauline Elizabeth Bartolone, Health Care Reporter 2014 Business (large)

"In a three-part series, Pauline Bartolone explores why rural northern Californians are facing new challenges with individual health insurance. When market rules took effect through the Affordable Care Act in 2014, major insurers in the area changed consumer benefits and vastly cut back on where they sell policies. The result, for many consumers in Northern California, has been fewer plan choices, restricted doctor access, and a lot of confusion about whether coverage will be there when they need it. This series shows that while California is touted as a success story for the federal health law, some consumers are still left, as one source says, "at the mercy of the [health insurance] market."

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Worth A Shot Freelance Alex Hannaford, Writer 2014 Public Health (small)

2013 saw the largest Pertussis outbreak in Texas since the 1950s -- the majority in the north and west of the state. Of the 3,621 cases, more than 400 people were hospitalized, and five children died. Pertussis, like measles and other diseases that vaccines nearly eradicated, was once again a major public health threat. The question was why? Fewer people vaccinated, lack of herd immunity, and the waning effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine had all conspired to help a once-rare disease like whooping cough come roaring back.

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The Next Mayo Star Tribune Jeremy Olson, Topics Reporter (with Dan Browning, Topics Reporter; Jackie Crosby, Feature Reporter) 2014 Business (large)

The Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic has built a towering reputation by providing excellent care – and charging accordingly. But the transformation of the health-care industry has posed a daunting challenge fore even this elite medical institution. To continue to thrive, Mayo must adapt, either by bringing costs down or demonstrating that its services are worth a premium. Its ability to navigate that challenge has significant big implications for the state of Minnesota, where Mayo is a top employer and has enlisted taxpayers in a $327 million effort to reinforce the state’s position as a global medical destination. The Star Tribune deployed three reporters to examine what Mayo is doing to defend and enhance its competitive position. A data analysis by the newspaper underscored the challenge by showing that Mayo’s prices are high. But as our series explains, Mayo is developing a multi-faceted business model that centers on its reputation for excellence. A new network of affiliated medical institutions around the country will draw on Mayo’s expertise, at a much lower cost that bringing patients to Minnesota. Data from this network, and elsewhere, will give Mayo an edge in studying the best, most cost effective approaches to care. Mayo’s main campus in Rochester, Minn., will continue to handle complex cases that others can’t resolve. The future course of health care is of course impossible to predict. But by exploring the steps Mayo is taking to position itself for continued success, the Star Tribune provided readers with valuable insight into an institution of critical importance in Minnesota.

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Russia's Hidden Epidemic Bloomberg Markets Simeon Bennett and Stepan Kravchenko 2014 Public Health (small)


Place: Second Place

Russia is besieged by an HIV epidemic that's largely invisible to the outside world. Medical professionals blame this public-health crisis on an unchecked outbreak among injecting drug users and President Vladimir Putin's refusal to accept outside help. Putin's government has turned away international aid while banning methadone, needle exchanges and other proven HIV prevention strategies. As a result, 21 percent of the world’s HIV-positive injecting drug users live in the country and new cases are rising faster there than any nation with a large number of infected people, including South Africa. The story documents Russia's health emergency through people living under Putin's policies.

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"Is Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush in a bubble?" Fortune Magazine Jen Wieczner Wieczner, writer-reporter 2014 Business (large)

The CEO of medical IT company Athenahealth, Jonathan Bush, has a big vision for reforming and revolutionizing the health care system: harness the power of the Internet to coordinate and optimize all aspects of patient care. And even though Bush is a close relative of the presidential (and Republican) Bush family, he keeps politics--and the fight over Obamacare--out of his quest. His biggest obstacle? The health care industry's systemic resistance to new technology and foot-dragging on innovation--in part a result of government incentives for hospitals to upgrade to costly electronic medical record systems that still don't solve the problems they were supposed to fix. Told as a narrative profile of the wacky, fun-loving CEO Bush and his company, this story also examines the difficulty in bringing cutting-edge technology to health care (particularly to the front lines of hospitals and doctor offices), an industry that lags all others in the adoption of modern tech and web-based innovations. It also sheds light on the opaque, yet extremely competitive and essential, electronic medical records industry, as well as how much farther health care must go to function efficiently.

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"Everybody (Well, Almost) lies...to Their Doctor" Freelance Diana Klebanow, Writer 2014 Public Health (small)

Although lying to physicians about drug use is common, patients who lies to doctors can put their lives at risk. As a result, various states have enacted prescription drug monitoring programs. The role of family interventions is also discussed, and programs have been developed to assist family members and friends to confront the problem with the abuser.

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Face of Hope Freelance Liza Gross, Journalist 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

The history of military medicine tells a strange tale of innovation through bloodshed, as healers in crisis conjure new remedies to save comrades ravaged by war. In recent U.S. conflicts, the wickedly destructive improvised explosive devices that littered the streets and battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan spurred advances in emergency medicine and evacuation procedures that, combined with enhanced helmets and armor, helped produce the highest U.S. combat survival rates in history. But body armor and helmets don’t protect the face. And the advances that saved so many lives in battle left surgeons back home struggling to fix harrowing facial wounds in numbers unrivaled since World War I. The Great War’s trenches exposed men’s faces to a fusillade of shrapnel, spurring unprecedented surgeries to reconstruct what remained. But when thousands of soldiers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with the devastating facial injuries of a brutal new kind of warfare, the tools of reconstructive medicine had barely moved beyond the techniques invented nearly a century ago. My story follows the struggle of two men, Staff Sgt. Todd Nelson, a soldier who lost most of his face to an IED in Afghanistan, and Col. Robert Hale, a top Army surgeon who, moved by modern medicine’s failure to restore Nelson’s face and former life, launched a massive effort to bring the science of facial repair into the 21st century.

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Ebola's Relentless Tides Scientific American Dina Fine Maron, Editor 2014 Public Health (small)

"The four stories included as part of this submission are a powerful response to the Ebola misconceptions that reached a fever pitch during the fall of 2014 in the U.S. They not only serve an essential "myth-busting" role about concerns of Ebola going airborne or being spread via sex, but they also give faces and names to the outbreak. These Scientific American pieces, part of our ongoing science-grounded Ebola coverage, include the perspectives of officials working on the frontlines of the response as well as community healthcare workers in west Africa."

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"He's Having Fun Defying Cancer Shooting a Rifle Before Billiards" Bloomberg News Ken Wells, Editor-at-Large (with John Brecher, Executive Editor - Enterprise; Elyse Tanouye, Managing Editor - Health, Science, Education) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Tom Galjour's Stage 4 small-cell lung cancer was supposed to kill him long ago and it almost did. Then, one day, Tom declined to die. More than two and a half years into his epic battle to live (the five year survival rate is less than two percent) he invited his old college friend and journalist, Ken Wells, inside his fight. Wells takes readers on a poignant and personal journey -- a narrative of struggle, fear, friendship, the limits and promises of contemporary cancer medicine and the elixir that hope, will and optimism play in this most intimate of stories. The grace of the narrative is in the scenes and details that paint Galjour as more than simply a cancer victim. In a way, the piece is a travelogue through the heart, mind and daily regimen of a man determined to live fully in the face of an implacable disease.

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Sick System The Morning Call Tim Darragh, Reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

Tim Darragh wrote this series as a project of and with a grant from the National Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism. The series explains a movement in health care to treat the system’s “super utilizers,” the relatively few whose care is burdening the system. Currently, those patients’ symptoms are treated when they become severe enough to warrant emergency care, which makes their treatment disproportionately expensive. Under a system piloted in Allentown, Pa. , and other cities through a federal grant, the full patient is addressed. Social workers and mental health workers help determine the reasons behind a lack of care, which often is tied to a lack of transportation or housing or support. Instead of hospitals seeing the patients as the problem, doctors are asking what the system can do to ensure the patient has proper access to care, medicine and support. In other words, the system – not the patient -- has to change. That’s why the series ran under the banner: Sick system. It came about through Darragh’s Obamacare coverage because the federal grant that funded Allentown’s and other cities’ projects came through the Affordable Care Act.

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"Colgate Total Component Hormonal, Cancer Link Spotlights FDA Process" Bloomberg News Tiffany Kary, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Kary explored the risks posed by antibacterial chemical triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste, in part by examining pages of Colgate-Palmolive's Food and Drug Administration application that were kept private after the toothpaste's 1997 approval. Bloomberg News asked scientists to review the previously undisclosed pages, summaries of scientific studies Colgate submitted as part of its new-drug application. The pages contained indications, the scientists concluded, of a potential health danger in one of America's top-selling toothpastes. Studies contained in these pages reported delayed bone growth and premature births in animals exposed to triclosan. Colgate's application dismissed these effects as incidental, in part because they didn't increase with the dose. In the years since Total's approval, as the pages remained out of public view, independent scientists have built a better understanding of chemicals that disrupt hormonal functioning. The size of the dose, researchers have found, bears less relation to developmental irregularities than when the dose occurs. Triclosan is among these endocrine disruptors -- a class of chemicals that has been linked, more broadly, to endocrine-related diseases including cancers, low birthweight babies, early breast development in girls and undescended testicles in boys. Other research has linked triclosan to the growth of cancer cells and bacteria. In recent years, several manufacturers have removed triclosan from hand soaps, deodorants and other health-care products. Minnesota has banned it from most health-care products. Colgate stands by Total toothpaste's safety and its role in fighting gum disease, which can progress to periodontal disease. The FDA has also stood by its approval of the application filed by Colgate. Kary's article raises questions about whether the FDA did appropriate due diligence in approving Total 17 years ago, and whether its approval should stand in light of new research.

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Mission Healthy: Locals lead the battle against obesity in Santa Paula freelance Stolz Stolz Stolz, reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

The Centers for Disease Control warned this year that one-half of young Latinos in this country would develop diabetes over the course of their lifetimes. This story begins with that stark warning, and looks at one little town in Southern California that is nearly 80% Latino, and its struggle against diabetes and metabolic syndrome, juxtaposed against another small town, not far away, that doesn't face this crisis.

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"Baseball Caught Looking as Fouls Injure 1,750 Fans a Year" Bloomberg News David Glovin, Reporter (with Daniel Goldin, Editor) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In a first of its kind analysis, this article answered questions that Major League Baseball has never publicly addressed: Are baseball fans at risk by attending a game? And how many fans are injured each year from foul balls? The answer: Fans are hurt more often than a batter is hit by a pitch (about 1,750 injured fans per season versus 1,536 batters hit by pitches). Many of the most serious injuries are to children, who have slower reaction times and are less likely to be paying attention to the action on the field. Glovin also showed that Major League Baseball could, if it wanted, take steps to lessen the risk of attending a ballgame. It hasn't.

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Children As Young As Ten Battling Eating Disorders freelance Conn. Health I-Team Magaly Olivero, reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

Magaly Olivero’s story illuminates one of the most pressing public health issues of our time: eating disorders and disordered eating, and why these life-threatening psychiatric conditions often go undiagnosed and untreated. The most significant findings include: • That children now as young as 10 struggle with eating disorders and seek treatment. • Cultural nuances, especially among Hispanics, can impact the onset of eating disorders • In CT the number of teens engaged in disordered eating rose significantly. • That parents, who pressure their children to be top-achievers, or even a health class -- can trigger eating disorders or disordered eating among youth.

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As Earth Warms, West Nile Spreads Freelance Brittany Faye Patterson, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

When West Nile first arrived in the U.S. 1999, it brought with it panic and the promise of a cure, or at least at treatment. Nearly 15 years later, West Nile still takes American lives, but a cure or a treatment, that never materialized. To be fair, West Nile affects a fairly small contingent of the population. From 2006 through 2012, there were 17,382 recorded cases. It's a tricky disease. Incidence varies widely year to year. Most people who contract West Nile will never even know it. About 1 in 5 will show symptoms, which resemble the common cold, but there is a small percentage of individuals, about 1 percent, according to the CDC, of those who contract the disease who will develop neurological symptoms, known as the neuroinvasive version of the disease. Most patients with non-neuroinvasive West Nile recover completely, although fatigue, malaise, and weakness can linger for weeks or months. But patients who manage to recover from the acute neuroinvasive infection are often left with neurologic deficits that never go away. About 10 percent of people with the neurinvasive version die, more than 1,600 so far. My grandmother was one of those people. One part of this story is a mystery story as I chronicle the heartbreaking weeks my family and I spent with my grandmother in the hospital as she fought West Nile. Within that narrative I tell the story of the panic the disease first caused when it arrived in the U.S., how it is spread, moves through a human body, the process in which the federal government decided to no longer push for a vaccine, how mosquito control is done, and most strikingly, how incredibly unprepared all of this had deinvesting has made us in light of the threat of climate change.

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Years Home, Female Iraq Vets Edure The Wounds Of War freelance Conn. Health I-Team Peggy McCarthy, reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

Peggy McCarthy’s story chronicled the health, mental health and emotional struggles of every day life for three female veterans, years after returning home from the Iraq War. What her reporting found was that female veterans: • Face unique health challenges (compared to male veterans) when transitioning to civilian life. • Suffer depression at twice the rate of male veterans. • Experience greater anxiety than men. • Sustain more muscular-skeletal injuries, although fewer amputations than men • Suffer PTSD at the same rate as men. • And that state and federal veteran health care systems are challenged to meet the needs of these veterans.

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Cancer Decisions Get Personal - When the Writer Becomes the Patient Freelance Karen Brown, Correspondent 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

When a health journalist (me) gets a controversial cancer diagnosis, she learns how complicated it is to parse out population-wide recommendations from personal peace of mind.

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Pesticide use by farmers linked to high rates of depression, suicides Environmental Health News Brian Bienkowski 2014 Public Health (small)


Place: Third Place

The story is about a farmer who committed suicide after years of handling pesticides and the increasing scientific evidence that long-term pesticide exposure can have mental health impacts such as depression.

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The End of Night Freelance Rebecca Boyle, Science writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This is a reported narrative essay about the health consequences of a world without darkness. The story fuses scientific findings with the emotional and social toll of a world lit by ubiquitous artificial lighting.

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Keeping Hope Alive for Single-Payer System Freelance Robert Fulton Fulton, Reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

I spent a Saturday at a conference put on by the California Health Professional Student Alliance discussing their hope for Single Payer. Turns out there's still hope in CA for Single Payer

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Brave and afraid and heading down the longest road The Boston Globe Jenna Russell, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This three-part narrative series, about a young man battling chronic mental illness, offered a close look at the failures of the mental health care system in Massachusetts by chronicling his family's frustrating efforts to get him meaningful treatment. Based on 18 months of reporting, from February 2013 until publication, the stories described in a vivid, gripping, deeply human way the burden that now falls on families, neighbors, police, courts and emergency rooms in managing care for patients who have been all but abandoned by the state.

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How to Defuse the Population Bomb Newsweek Elijah Wolfson, Senior Editor (with Zoe Schlanger, Reporter) 2014 Public Health (small)

Almost every big problem humanity is watching come down the pike is exacerbated by, connected to, or directly attributable to the fact that our species is exploding. In large part, this is happening in the global south. Kenya, for example, is in the midst of a population explosion. With a high fertility rate—the average Kenyan woman has 4.5 children, compared with 2.3 worldwide—Kenya’s population of 44 million is projected to more than double to 97 million by 2050. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of Kenyan women are still unable to access the contraceptives they want. Despite over a century of family-planning aid work, it remains one of the most misunderstood aspects of international development. This is in large part because of Western efforts to apply a coercive form of population control under the guise of “family planning.” If we could get people to talk openly and honestly about the issue, and bring better family planning to women worldwide, we might simultaneously even the gender gap, improve women's and children's health across the globe, and stem the population explosion that is destroying the planet.

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Frontiers of Medical Technology NPR Rob Stein, Correspondent/Senior Editor (with Joe Neel, Senior Editor; Jane Greenhalgh & Rebecca Davis, Senior Producers) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

In this occasional series of radio stories, NPR Health Correspondent Rob Stein explores how new technology is changing medicine, and in some cases raising troubling questions. Each piece describes how cutting-edge advances in science are leading to new ways to treat in disease. Each takes listeners on a fascinating, often very intimate journey into labs, operating rooms, and, in one case, a home where these advances are unfolding. One story describes how doctors used 3D printing to save the life of a baby who couldn’t breathe. Another chronicles how a father, who happens to be a biomedical engineer, is trying to develop a “bionic pancreas” to save the life of his diabetic son, and help other people struggling with the disease. The third piece reveals how human embryonic stem cells are helping blind people see. The final story explores how scientists want to do “DNA transplants” to help women have healthy babies. Together, this compelling set of stories illuminates where the leading edge of biomedical research is taking us.

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Access to Good Food as Preventive Medicine Freelance Erin N. Marcus, Writer 2014 Public Health (small)

This article discussed the effect of food insecurity (i.e., problems paying for food) on health. Nearly one in three U.S. adults with a chronic disease has problems paying for food, medicine, or both. The article described my experiences as a primary care doctor caring for these patients. It also described the food served at many soup kitchens, which often is starchy and sugary and low in vegetables and fruits. I described the experiences of a diabetic who relies on soup kitchens for his meals as well as the experiences of a nurse practitioner who works with homeless people who have chronic diseases such as diabetes. The article provided an overview of research findings on food insecurity and health and the role of food stamps on food insecurity. It concluded by discussing possible ways health care workers could address the problem in light of recent cuts to the food stamp program.

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The Ultra-Rare Erdheim-Chester Disease: Turning Grief into a Campaign for a Cure Freelance Idelle Davidson, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"This is the story of how an individual with no medical background and limited funding channeled grief into action to help advance research in one of the rarest diseases on the planet. The disorder is called Erdheim-Chester disease (ECD). Only 500 cases exist in the medical literature. Kathy Brewer's husband died of the disease. But it was only upon his death, when Brewer received his autopsy report, that she learned its name. Not one doctor came up with a diagnosis or effective treatment while he was living.. The disease is vicious and as yet, there is no cure. Tumors, sometimes one or two inches in diameter encase vital organs until they shut down. Brewer was determined to make a difference and raise awareness so no one else would suffer. She had no clue how to proceed until a doctor gave her the formula for success. "Patients plus money equals research," he told her. So she mobilized patients. Today, 198 ECD patients from 33 countries are registered on her ECD Global Alliance site and living with the disease. An additional 46 are registered but deceased. That registry led to donations from patients and their families. So far she has raised $500,000. That's a drop in the bucket compared to major disease groups. Still, Brewer, who takes no salary, has awarded a handful of research grants. Even more importantly, because of her work and an organized population of ECD patients, the National Institutes of Health is conducting the first study of its kind looking at the genetic components of the disease. Juvianee Estrada-Veras, who runs the NIH study credits Brewer with helping to prolong the lives of ECD patients because of her work networking with patients and scientists and clinical trials. As Estrada-Veras says of Brewer, "She wants everything to be done for the patient the best way possible. She fights for them. She worries for them. She is their voice." The story illustrates that champions exist even when a disease is so rare that most of the world doesn't care. Their stories show the best of humanity and deserve recognition."

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Children stuck in crisis The Connecticut Mirror Arielle Levin Becker, Health care reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

The number of children and teens who go to the emergency department in psychiatric crisis has been rising for years, but this spring, it reached unprecedented levels at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. This story examined the stories behind the rising numbers: why so many children were ending up in the emergency department, what the increased demand meant for the hospital, how changes in the mental health system have led to more children with acute needs that aren't being met by community providers, and what it's meant for families. (Please see the URL for interactive graphics and photo captions.)

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Saving Babies Lives Before They're Born...And After MyNDTALK with Dr. Pamela Brewer, Inc. Pamela Brewer, Reporter/Host (with Jim Brown, Managing Producer) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"Robin Karr-Morse, Author of "The Ghosts From The Nursery" and "Scared Sick," discusses the impact of pre-birth and birth trauma and an exciting new program that could make all the difference in creating/growing healthier babies - a healthier nation."

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The Risks of Home Birth The Bend (Ore.) Bulletin Markian Hawryluk 2014 Public Health (small)


Place: First Place

Women often avoid hospital births in fear of a medicalized birth experience, but are generally unaware of the very high risks associated with home birth.

Judges' comments: "The Risks of Home Birth" takes a significant, national health problem and uses peer-reviewed or government data combined with personal, local examples to tell a compelling story. The reporters use clear, concise, and nonjudgmental language in their work, bringing attention to a public health concern that few understand.

The article is beautifully presented, with large illustrative photos, charts, and sidebars to guide readers through the material.

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One of a Kind: What Do You Do If Your Child Has a Condition That Is New to Science? Freelance Seth Mnookin, Writer and reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

The story followed a family whose five-year-old son was the first ever case of a rare genetic disease. The child was diagnosed in an exome sequencing study. Without other patients, it would have been impossible to get 100 percent final confirmation -- and more importantly, it would have been impossible to get scientists to investigate the disease and explore potential therapies. The piece chronicled the family's successful effort to locate other patients on their own, thereby overcoming the built-in barriers to sharing sequencing data between labs and institutions.

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Intelligent Life The Economist Rosie Blau Blau, Correspondent 2014 Public Health (small)

If you go to the doctor or psychiatrist, they probably won’t ask you how much light you are getting. But scientists working in this area, from California to Japan, are convinced that where there is light – the right type, at the right time of day – there is health. This is a feature about the the fascinating and integral relationship between light and health.

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A common problem few women want to talk about: Fibroids cause more than just pain Freelance Erin N Marcus, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

This feature article and sidebar discuss fibroids, a condition that can be debilitating and embarrassing. Fibroids can cause profound weakness and bleeding and can significantly impair women’s ability to work and lead a full life. The condition disproportionately affects black women. Compared with many other common conditions, there has been a relative dearth of research into the causes and treatment of fibroids, and too often women have been prescribed surgical procedures such as hysterectomy. The main article discussed current understanding of fibroids, racial disparities in fibroid severity, and the possible role of genetics, diet and environmental factors on fibroid development. The sidebar article provided an overview of different treatment options for fibroids and their benefits and risks.

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Closing in on ALS? Link between lethal disease and algae explored Environmental Health News - www.ehn.org Lindsey Konkel, Editor / Staff Writer 2014 Public Health (small)

Scientists are investigating whether breathing neurotoxins produced by toxic algae blooms may increase the risk of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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A Survivor's Celebration The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive Media Group Sue Collins Thoms, Health reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

“A Survivor’s Celebration” follows Pam Buschle, a 53-year-old woman, through a battle with septic shock, the amputation of both hands and feet, and her effort to resume a full, independent life. Through her story, we see several medical developments – the threat posed by rising sepsis rates, progress and challenges of treating sepsis, and the advances in rehab medicine and prosthetics. It also shows the powerful spirit of a woman who says, with conviction, that her medical journey has made her a better person.

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Aging in Beaver County Beaver County Times Jenny Wagner, Reporter 2014 Public Health (small)

Marcia Lieberman has spent the last 10 years of the nearly 70 she has been married caring for her husband, Bill, who has Alzheimer's disease. She feeds him, bathes him, navigates complicated systems to secure support services for him, and she fiercely protects his dignity as a once well-known professional in the community. She is a caregiver, and she is not alone here. Beaver County has one of the oldest populations in the country, and with nearly 20 percent of its residents now age 65 and older, the median age is eight years higher than that of the United States. The county is spread out, has transportation and other infrastructure challenges and its younger generations are not coming home after college, opting for Pittsburgh and beyond. In fact, local government officials have been cautioned by a nationally renowned city planner who did consulting work here that the “silver tsunami” is on its way, and Beaver County is not ready for it. That was our call to action. We started planning in October 2013 for a year-long series that would dissect the issues surrounding Beaver County’s challenges. We knew we had the obvious health and medical issues that come with aging, but we also looked at development, personal and government financial hurdles, supports and services and just everyday life, which has greatly affected members of the sandwich generation who are raising their own families while taking care of parents and grandparents. Health and Wellness Reporter Jenny Wagner wrote more than two dozen stories, and with the help of editors and a digital team, built up a dedicated page on The Times' website that stands as a resource for readers, where they can learn more about the local issues as well as find a wealth of easy-to-understand information on programs and services, notices of community events and more. The web page also was home to two incredibly moving video components that accompanied the Alzheimer’s and dementia stories in June, and an end-of-life story in December. The series found that while most people are aware of our rapidly shifting demographics, the local response has been slow-going. Our work has spurred numerous conversations among government leaders. The issue comes up in board meetings, public meetings, at holiday parties and over coffee at local breakfast spots. It has gotten political leaders’ attention and become an election issue, both statewide and locally. As Beaver County’s economic growth potential rises with the oil and natural gas industry and with the possibility of Shell Chemicals building a plant here, the timing for addressing these major concerns never has been better.

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Getting Pregnant When One Partner Has HIV Freelance Heather Boerner Boerner, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

An excerpt of Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science's Surprising Victory Over HIV, which follows two straight couples in which the man has HIV in their 14-year conception journey. Using clinical trials, interviews with couples and researchers, and data on HIV transmission, I lay out how we got to the point we're at today with an HIV virus that can be tamed, and what that means for couples looking to have unprotected sex in the service of conception. This excerpt in particular lays out the legal and medical barriers the couples faced, the history of stigma and fear that led to those barriers, and how public policy, health policy and the failure of science to translate from the lab to the clinic impacts two couple's lives.

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Suicide hurts Petoskey News-Review Sheri Erin McWhirter, Courier managing editor 2014 Public Health (small)

The enterprise package focused around the public health issue of suicide. A recent and shocking suicide by a prominent community member raised questions about mental health, how to recognize the need for help in yourself or others, and how to go about getting help from medical professionals. The package includes four parts, including the main story about how two local families cope with the loss of a loved one to suicide and the similarities despite the deaths being separated by more than a dozen years. One sidebar is about local educational efforts to raise awareness among youth about suicide through the Michigan Yellow Ribbon organization, with other sidebars about actual suicide statistics across the region and finally, how to access local resources for help with mental health. The only findings are that there are no real trends in suicide rates in our small, regional area. Instead, an attempted or completed suicide seems to be an intensely personal internal struggle that often requires outside help to overcome. What stands out the most is the negative stigma attached to mental health care and those to seek it out or require that type of health care.

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ProPublica: Legal Pot in Colo. Comes With Risks ProPublica Marshall Allen, Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

When I returned to my home state of Colorado and saw so many openly smoking pot – and then had a friend at the AHCJ conference have a terrible reaction to too many pot gummy bears – I decided to look into the issue. I found some problems related to the legalization of marijuana. First, legal pot is attracting new and possibly naïve users — creating risks that some don't bargain for. Second, the public health system's desire to protect people may be well-intentioned, but regulation and efforts to track the health effects have a ways to go. Edible pot products in particular present the greatest risk to consumers and are not carefully regulated.

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Transgenders find society gradually accepting Post-Bulletin Co., L.L.C. Jeff Hansel, Health reporter/columnist 2014 Public Health (small)

This article was the cover piece for a package that included three inside pages featuring transgender individuals and the parent of a transgender woman. It's the culmination of a half year of interviews that required the trust of four featured transgender sources, searches to find health experts willing to speak publicly, persistence to gain a Mayo Clinic interview and willingness of newspaper leadership to tackle a potentially controversial topic and give the coverage a high profile.

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No, Seriously, How Contagious Is Ebola? NPR Michaeleen Doucleff, Reporter (with Adam Cole, Illustrator) 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

"The first cases of Ebola in the U.S. triggered widespread fear and misconceptions about the virus. There was confusion about how the virus spreads, how you catch it and how easy it is stop. My goal was to clear up this confusion. But instead of simply telling readers, over and over again, facts about the virus, I created a series of stories and infographics to illustrate scientific data supporting the facts. Then readers could separate fact from fiction and draw their own conclusions about the virus. Each infographic boiled down a complex idea about Ebola into one simple chart that was easy to digest and understand. The text under the graphic took the reader, step by step, through the data in a clear way. (Note: The three stories weren’t explicitly connected in a series on the Web. So I have submitted just the main story for the award. But I’m describing the other two stories in the loosely connected series to show how my coverage provided in depth "news you can use” about Ebola.) The main story of the series ("No, Seriously How Contagious Is Ebola?") illustrated how contagious Ebola is compared to other viruses by exploring the epidemiological metric, Ro. This story received a phenomenal response. It drew more than 2.7 million page views and was shared more than 60,000 times on Facebook. The second story in the loosely-connected series ("What's My Risk Of Catching Ebola") used basic statistics to show how unlikely it is to get Ebola in the United States. Specifically, the story and graphic compared the risks of catching Ebola in the U.S. and in Liberia to extremely rare ways of dying, such as by bee stings or a shark bite. Finally, the third story ("Ebola In The Air: What Science Says About How The Virus Spreads") cleared up the confusion about whether Ebola spreads through the air. To do that, I explained how a virus can move in the air but still not be airborne. The key to the story was a 1934 study showing that pathogens can spread through the air in two ways: the airborne route and the droplet route. Some viruses, such as measles, move far distances through the air in suspended clouds of tiny droplets (this is the airborne route). But Ebola moves in large, fat droplets that quickly fall to the ground. So it can’t spread very far. I designed an infographic to illustrate these two transmission routes. I also explained how Ebola can spread through the airborne route in the lab but not outside of it."

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Correctional Health Care Associate Professor, School of Public Health, St. Louis University Fred Rottnek, MD, writer 2014 Public Health (small)

Story describes how a young doctor chose to work in correctional medicine, how his patient load is made up of murderers, rapists, thieves, junkies, prostitutes, and child abusers, why he finds the work spiritually fulfilling, physically exhausting, and exactly the fit he sought when he wanted to be a doctor.

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Grading Obamacare rollout Vida en el Valle Maria Guadalupe Ortiz Briones, Health Reporter 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

Not long after Covered California opened for business last October to signup residents for the controversial Affordable Care Act, it ran into problems and headaches that were more pronounced in the state’s Latino community. Vida en el Valle examined the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, problems that came up and how Covered California worked to solve them.

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PrEP and Prejudice POZ Benjamin Ryan, Editor-at-Large 2014 Public Health (small)

“PrEP is not a silver bullet.” If you speak to a lengthy roster of HIV advocates and researchers about the controversial HIV prevention pill Truvada, you will hear a good handful of them, unprompted, utter this phrase verbatim. Providing the drug to HIV-negative people isn’t meant as a panacea that will brush aside all other prevention methods, the experts stress. And only time will tell if pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, will actually help curb the U.S. HIV epidemic, in particular among gay men. Success on a public health scale depends on whether Truvada ends up in the medicine cabinets of a critical mass of people at high risk for HIV, and if they wind up adhering well to the daily regimen.

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Soccer Broke My Brain Freelance (at the time of publication) Rebecca Ruiz, Writer 2014 Consumer/Feature (large)

The story is a personal account of what it means to sustain a concussion as an athlete. It draws on current medical and scientific research to help readers, particularly athletes, understand the short- and long-term risks of concussion. The purpose of the story is to explore what it means to risk one’s health and wellbeing in pursuit of athletic achievement -- and ultimately to demonstrate to readers that the stakes may be indeed too high. Though much has been written about concussion and the frightening outcomes in professional football and hockey players, I felt that none of these stories had really addressed the very difficult decisions an athlete has to make about his or her athletic career and health following a concussion.

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When it Comes to Obesity- Tip the scales in your favor Columbus African American News Journal Lisa D. Benton, MD, MPH, writer 2014 Public Health (small)

Personal narrative of how to collate and apply the endless stream of public and population health weight loss information available for personal use.

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Tragedy in Boston: Nursing Students Get Unexpected Education Medscape from WebMD Susan Yox, RN, EdD 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

We quickly got in touch with a nursing instructor who had students on the scene during the Boston Marathon bombings and interviewed her for a story, which was posted on Medscape four days later. This article was widely read in the days and weeks after the tragedy.

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Jason Millman's 2013 Body of Work POLITICO Jason Millman 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories document states’ implementation of the Affordable Care Act. States are afforded flexibility in how they implement the law, making the ACA a local story as much a national one. This reporting examines how politics, industry and local factors are shaping states’ approaches to the largest coverage expansion in decades.

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Is HIPAA Creating More Problems Than It's Preventing? Medscape from WebMD Neil Chesanow 2013 Health Policy (large)

Physicians, other healthcare providers, hospital executives and state agencies are confused by rules mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountabilty Act (HIPAA). This story revealed that HIPAA patient privacy restrictions are far more elastic than most people realize. However, hospital lawyers and risk managers over-interpreted the law, and as a result have made rules on patient privacy far more rigid than the law's drafters ever intended. These rules have now been broadly misinterpreted by doctors and healthcare organizations and are contributing to dysfunctional healthcare systems.

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Hospital Bosses Talk Efficiency, Get Paid for Growth Kaiser Health News Jay Hancock, Sarah Barr, 2013 Business (large)

This reporting uncovered a secret ingredient in the US health-cost spiral: CEOs at nonprofit hospitals reap large bonuses for driving revenue growth and patient volume. Of the 30 biggest private and public nonprofit hospital systems, there were numerous examples of compensation explicitly tied to the revenue gains, volume goals, profit targets and overall expansion that many believe make the US health system unsustainable. 

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Are Oncologists Different From Other Doctors? Medscape from WebMD Neil Chesanow 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

More than 20 times a day, oncologists give people the worst news that they will ever receive. This article set out to learn why these doctors do their jobs and how they cope.

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Obamacare Showdown in Texas POLITICO Jennifer Haberkorn 2013 Health Policy (large)

Texas is one of strongest opponents of the Affordable Care Act, but within the state are pockets of resistance. The most interesting of those are local governments, which are doing everything from funding office space for enrollment specialists to posting information on how to sign up on water bills. For this story, the reporter visited Houston and El Paso to see this activity first hand.

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7 Ways to Be Dead Medscape from WebMD Leslie Kane 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This article explores the ethical and moral issues doctors face when deciding with patients and family 'when to pull the plug.' Technology has greatly increased the complexity of this issue. People (both medical and non-medical) have different definitions of what constitutes 'legal death'; determining legal death is made tougher by technology that can detect tiny, formerly undetectable signs of life within the brain, even when the patient is unconscious. In this article, religious people, medical experts and patients debate whether a patient is or is not considered 'legally dead.' The ramifications are tremendous, both for the issues of potential organ donations and for the emotions of the family.

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HIV-Positive Recovering Addicts Catholic Health World Judith VandeWater 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

In 1989, The Alexian Brothers, a congregation of religious men, opened an AIDS hospice in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood to give AIDS patients, who were being shunned by their families and faced homelessness, a place to die with dignity. As the advent of antiretrovirals and education changed the "face of AIDS" and the rate of new infection among relatively affluent homosexuals decreased, the Brothers continued to seek out the most socially and economically vulnerable and marginalized HIV/AIDS patients -- poor people with mentally illness who are recovering from addiction.

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Nurses Check Out Library Patrons Nurse.com/Gannett Healthcare Group Lori Fagan, Deborah Filipek, Heather Cygan 2013 Public Health (small)

Public health RNs work at Pima County, Ariz. libraries, a unique venue for recognizing and serving the needs of the community. The program began with the nurses dividing up the equivalent of one full-time position, and now, one year later, there are 11 nurses working among 13 libraries and a bookmobile. Based on the patients' needs, they might refer patients to appropriate resources and connect with services like housing authority and the VA hospitals.

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Capping the Risk ESPN Steve Delsohn, William Weinbaum, Tim Hays 2013 Public Health (large)

ESPN's reporting was the first to extensively examine the danger of head injuries faced by Major League Baseball pitchers from line drives traveling at high speeds off the bats of hitters and what mitigating effect headgear might have, as well as the concerns and dissent over such devices. “Outside the Lines” reported exclusively on MLB's testing of protective cap inserts and on an analysis from five years of MLB video of the frequency with which pitchers had been struck in the head by batted baseballs. The report also provided animation in explaining the reaction time for pitchers to line drives and the area of the head left uncovered by proposed protective caps.

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Trading on Innocence Freelance / Nurse.com Cynthia Saver, Sallie JImenez, Heather Cygan 2013 Public Health (small)

This story reports on American child sex trafficking. It emphasizes the importance of the role of nurses, who are in prime positions to identify possible victims when they seek medical treatment in the ED, free clinics, MD offices and other locations. The story talks about the various ways victims may present themselves, as well as effective approaches nurses can employ when caring for them. Nurses learn about what they can do about human sex trafficking as well as their involvement in the process of reporting and recovery. 

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The Future of Your Health Care MONEY magazine Amanda Gengler 2013 Business (large)

Whether they loved the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare"), loathed it, or just didn't know what to make of it, MONEY readers in 2013 knew that the way they paid for health care was changing. With the first deadline for signing up for the new insurance exchanges slated for the end of the year, readers wanted to know how the system might affect them, whether plans would be affordable, and what would happen to their current coverage and access to doctors. This series reports.

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Locum Hospitalists: Lifesavers, or a Serious Threat? Freelance / TodaysHospitalist.com Deborah Gesensway 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Temporary doctors (locum tenens) have always been a small, but often life-saving, element of medical staffing. But in the fast-growing field of hospital medicine, where demand outstrips supply, some communities have come to depend on a "permanent" revolving door of locum hospitalists. This article explores the pros and cons of that practice and questions the conventional wisdom that locum tenens is often the only--and best--way to staff fledgling hospitalist programs. Drawing from interviews with multiple hospitalists, recruiters and consultants, the story lays out some major short- and long-term ramifications of hospital medicine's reliance on locum tenens staffing, including the economic viability of groups and hospitals, the quality of clinical care provided to hospitalized patients and the professional reputation of this new medical specialty.

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Crimes of the Heart Bloomberg News David Armstrong, Peter Waldman, Sydney P. Freedberg 2013 Investigative (large)

Bloomberg News revealed that the death toll from cardiac stents is rising, explained how more than a million of the tiny tubes were implanted without need, and showed how they spawned a $110 billion financial bonanza that led to wanton and criminal overuse by doctors at hospitals across the country.

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The Economics of Nursing Nurse.com / Gannett Healthcare Group Cathryn Domrose, Nick Hut, Jan Lynch, RN, MSNN 2013 Health Policy (large)

Nursing education and nursing research experienced serious cuts in funding, and nursing deans, professors and RN directors speak out about how these funding cuts will affect the profession and healthcare. As a result of workforce budget cuts, those in the healthcare sector have and will lose their jobs, and facilities across the country are trying to anticipate their needs for the future. This story gives a thorough account of what healthcare entities are doing to deal with the funding and budget cuts and the changes in the economy and in healthcare.

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Supplement shell game: The people behind risky pills USA Today Alison Young, John Hillkirk and Shannon Rae Green 2013 Business (large)


Place: First Place

An investigation by USA Today reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed.

And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminal turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.

Judges' comments: With exhaustive and groundbreaking reporting, Alison Young laid bare the hazards posed by dietary supplements taken by thousands of American consumers. Young followed supplement makers through the courts and to Mexico, spoke truth to big distributors like Walmart, government regulators and other in the industry, and demonstrated that there is little effective control over the contents of highly popular and widely distributed supplements. And she got results: Walmart has removed Craze, an energy supplement, from its shelves. Florida investigators are looking into the past of some of the supplement makers. The industry has also taken action.Young’s work represents the best in journalism: A topic that affects a large swath of the population. Original and thorough reporting. Excellent writing. Great multimedia presentation. Impact.

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Sandy Hook Pediatricians Share Grief, Advice, Hope 6 Months After Tragedy AAP News (American Academy of Pediatrics) Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

On the six-month anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, four pediatricians recall the chaotic events of the day from a professional and personal standpoint. The story includes a sidebar sharing the sources' advice to physician colleagues who could find themselves in a similar situation.

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Pharma’s Windfall: The Mining of Rare Diseases The Seattle Times Michael J. Berens, Ken Armstrong, 2013 Investigative (large)

Thirty years ago, Congress acted to spur research on rare diseases. Today, we have hundreds of new drugs -- along with runaway pricing and market manipulation, as pharmaceutical companies turn a law with good intentions into a profit engine. This analysis tracked about 2,000 rare diseases before the Orphan Drug Act. There are now at least 6,432 diseases -- a profit-driven strategy known as salami slicing, dividing one disease into many to create more drug markets. Drugs for rare diseases commonly begin in the six figures for a year of treatment. In 2013, one reached $440,000. For pharmaceutical companies, the biggest profits from orphan drugs typically trace to off-label sales. In the series’ second story, the Times detailed how one Seattle biotech used marketing tactics condemned by the U.S. Department of Justice to ring up tens of millions of dollars in sales from a drug approved for only 400 patients a year. 

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Wither the County Home McKnight's Long-Term Care News Elizabeth Leis Newman 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

County nursing homes make up 6% of the 15,622 skilled nursing facilities in the U.S., but many are in dire financial straits or forced to close. This investigative report sought to find out why, and to highlight stories of different county SNFs in the U.S.

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Order Amidst Chaos Freelance / Nurse.com / Gannett Healthcare Group Janet Boivin, Sallie JImenez, Heather Cygan 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

When the city of Boston was shut down for four days after the marathon bombings because the suspects were on the loose, trauma centers caring for the victims had already updated their response plans based on lessons from the bombings. Boston's RN teams found that disaster plans need fine-tuning after the fact, but definitely not an overhaul. The story talks about what RNs at the various hospitals learned; how communication was crucial; the effects of social media; and how they defined new roles and altered processes during the disaster.

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Take Two Aspirin and Download this App WBUR Martha Bebinger, Margaret Evans, editor, 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

There is an explosion of apps to help patients with everything from diet to recording an EKG to diagnosing cancer. FDA regulation of apps had not been finalized at the time this story aired, but one company had begun to certify apps and award a seal of approval in some cases. How to use all the data apps generate is "the wild, wild west" of health care.

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Cancer at Camp LeJeune NBC News Nancy Snyderman, Ami Schmitz, Katie Boyle 2013 Investigative (large)

On “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” Dr. Nancy Snyderman investigated a potential link between contaminated drinking water and serious health effects at the Marine base at Camp LeJeune, N.C. The story focuses on a group of male breast cancer patients — former marines or children of marines who all lived at Camp Lejeune. The drinking water there was found to be the site of the worst contamination in U.S. history — and yet the CDC had been sitting on data for years that potentially answered questions about whether that contamination was linked to breast cancer, leukemia and certain birth defects. 

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Amyloid - The Eyes Have It International Medical News Group Michele Guay Sullivan 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story explores a growing body of evidence suggesting that fragments of amyloid - the protein that comprises the characteristic brain lesions of Alzheimer's - accumulates in the lens of the eye decades before any other discernible clinical manifestation. These deposits can be clearly identified with new laser scanning devices. In the face of repeated failures of any disease-modifying therapy, Alzheimer's researchers are focusing more on prevention. Early risk assessment and interventions to reduce risk could be the best - perhaps even the only - way to positively impact the ever-rising tide of Alzheimer's disease. Eye exams could be an inexpensive and convenient component of such a program.

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Impact of Receding Salton Sea Unknown Freelance Robert Fulton 2013 Public Health (small)

The Salton Sea in Southern California is slowly receding, exposing its lake bed. Exactly what this might lead to is still unknown, but it could result in toxic dust storms caused by wind whipping up the exposed lake bed. This story examines what dust storms might mean for human health and how they might be stopped.

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Insured or Not, Lack of Access Drives Patients to EDs Freelance / Emergency Medical News Ruth SoRelle 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Amid all the talk of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, one fact is being consistently overlooked. Insured patients will have insurance, but will they be able to access primary care? The answer is basically no, and emergency departments are bracing themselves for the onslaught of the newly insured.

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The Pill Game Workforce Rita Pyrillis 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have become some of the most influential players in the pharmaceutical supply chain and represent a multi-billion dollar industry. Nearly every employee with health insurance in the United States gets their drug benefits through a PBM, which determines if they receive a brand or generic, how much they pay for their Lipitor and which drug store they get it from. But few have heard of them and most employers have only a basic understanding of how they operate. They can save employers significant dollars, but how exactly, is shrouded by a series of complex negotiations over prices, rebates and discounts. They are a mysterious middleman between the employer, drug makers and pharmacies. It’s a system ripe for abuse and for years their practices have gone unquestioned. But that is changing. This story examines how PBMs operate and looks at the growing demand for transparency among legislators, consumer groups and employers.

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Dirty medicine Fortune Katherine Eban, Doris Burke and Frederik Joelving 2013 Business (large)


Place: Third Place

Indian generic-pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts of fraud and other charges and agreed to pay $500 million in fines and penalties. “Dirty Medicine,” based on more than 1,000 confidential company documents and interviews over several years with Ranbaxy staffers, takes readers deep inside the boardroom, offices and labs at the company. Reporter Katherine Eban deciphered reams of complex laboratory documents to learn how the company routinely fabricated tests for its drugs. By obtaining secret company documents, she exposed how Ranbaxy’s top leadership was complicit in the worldwide fraud. Eban’s reporting revealed how ill-equipped the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to detect the sort of wholesale fraud that Ranbaxy practiced, raising deeply upsetting questions about the safety of the entire U.S. drug supply, which is now 84 percent generic, most of it made overseas. 

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Oral Health Crisis for Low Income Americans WGBH Boston Public Radio Ibby Caputo, Ted Canova 2013 Health Policy (large)

This two-part series investigates disparities in dental care. Dental care is not a federal requirement for Medicaid, and therefore it is often on the chopping block when states are balancing their budgets, which affects the oral health of low-income residents. Even when states do decide to fund dental care for Medicaid recipients, most dentists will not take it.

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The Price of Addiction Portland Business Journal Elizabeth Hayes 2013 Health Policy (small)

The stories detail the opioid epidemic in Oregon, which has the highest rate of nonmedical prescription drug use in the country. The problem stemmed from well-intended doctors' efforts to treat pain. Unfortunately, pills such as Oxycodone are highly addictive and don't work effectively on chronic pain. Many addicts have switched to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to obtain. The health system, police, medical community and treatment programs are making inroads, but they are a long way from getting on top of the problem. Meanwhile, there are 100 million opioid tabs in circulation and 150 heroin-related deaths a year in Oregon.

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Freckle, Mole Or Skin Cancer? Ladies' Home Journal Julie Bain, Sally Lee, Kate Lawler 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Ladies' Home Journal covers some aspect of skin cancer every year. In 2013, the staff decided to focus on melanoma, the most dangerous type, since it has grown 705 percent among women under 40, the magazine's target audience. Reporters worked with the Skin Cancer Foundation to find a young woman who had been diagnosed with melanoma. Melissa Flesher was seven months pregnant when, by coincidence, she noticed a dark spot on the back of her leg that she thought was a tick. But it wasn't; it was an early-stage melanoma. Flesher was lucky it was caught early. This feature combined her story with service content on melanoma that women need to know.

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Future Docs Rhode Island Public Radio Kristin Gourlay 2013 Health Policy (small)

Future Docs is a radio and online documentary project that follows the experiences of medical students and residents as they become doctors. This series included 10 radio stories that aired throughout the school year, plus a one-hour documentary that included some of those stories and wrapped up the series, and an online blog. Future Docs asked the questions: what’s it like to become a doctor today in Rhode Island, and how is that changing? 

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Running for Health TVC NEWS Wendy Chinemerem Agbo, Akinsoji Emmanuel, Mohammed Olasunkanmi 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood. This story takes a look at the causes and effects -- both financial and emotiona. It highlights how taking certain precautions during pregnancy might decrease the risk of a child being born with the condition. And it gives hope and direction to parents of children with cerebral palsy. 

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Mental Health Team Hits The Road To Help Youth In Crisis Conn. Health I-Team Magaly Olivero 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

After the Sandy Hook shooting in which 20 children and six teachers died, state officials held a series of hearings on solutions -- including devoting more resources and money to mental health. This story reports on a little-known program, the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services, which acts as a SWAT team, providing mental health services to children in need: at their school, at their home or in their community. 

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Confronting Cancer: A Father's Fear WRIC TV8 Nate Eaton, Ben Arnold, Kelly Woodard 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

Reporter Nate Eaton learned his mother was part of one of the original study groups for the BRCA 1 mutated gene (often called the "breast cancer gene"). She tested positive and, at age 62, is the oldest living woman with the gene in her family. There is a 50% chance Nate carried the mutated gene so he decided to get tested. The main reason: his wife had a baby girl this year - and if Nate had the gene, his daughter could too. After undergoing the test on TV, the results came back and Nate is negative -- meaning his cancer risks are the same as anybody else and his daughter doesn't need to get tested.

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Elizabeth Rosenthal's 2013 Body of Work The New York Times Elisabeth Rosenthal 2013 Beat Reporting


Place: First Place

How could the most ordinary care be so much more expensive in the United States? Why is it so much more costly than in other countries? By examining a series of common medical encounters, "Paying Till It Hurts" dissects the financial incentives and relationships that help create the high prices. The series traces where the money goes.

Judges' comments: Elisabeth Rosenthal shines a light on the absurdities in health care pricing. Something has got to give in this system, and stories like these will inspire people to keep demanding change.

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Unhealthy Mercury Levels Persist In Our Waterways And Our Fish Freelance / C-HIT Theresa Sulliver Barger 2013 Public Health (small)

Household and business recycling habits -- for light bulbs, thermometers and other products containing mercury -- matter. Improper disposal of waste ends up in one of Connecticut's trash-to-engergy plants, where through the disposal process mercury gas is emitted into the air and eventually pollutes waterways and ends up in our fish. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has worked to reduce mercury, though high levels exist in many of the state's fresh waterways.

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Thousands of Nursing Home Beds Empty As State Rebalances Care Conn. Health I-Team Lisa Chedekel 2013 Business (small)

Occupancy rates in nursing homes are falling at a time when states, like Connecticut, are providing financial incentives to care for people at home, or in community. Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements to nursing homes are also shrinking, and nursing homes face competition from assisted living facilities that are not regulated. With fewer beds occupied, nursing home owners have struggled to maintain high quality care ratings. In addition, many nursing facilities have made changes: upgrading facilities, diversifying services to attract clients for rehabilitation and offering long-term residential stays.

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Death By Indifference: Why Millions In Russia May Die Needlessly of AIDS The Daily Beast Gregory Gilderman 2013 Public Health (large)

Russia is home to one of the largest and fastest-spreading AIDS epidemics on the planet. This piece draws attention to the lesser-known facts about the crisis, and brings them to light with text and video interviews with the people suffering the consequences. Among them: a mother living AIDS and her HIV-positive son; a former heroin dealer living with AIDS; an ex-inmate who became HIV-positive in prison. The reporting reveals how high risk groups – intravenous drug users, sex workers, prisoners, and gay men – form a pariah class in Russia whom politicians and the general public have little desire to assist. The overall sentiment from Russian officials about this ongoing health crisis is, as the title indicates, indifference.

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Lisa Chedekel's 2013 Body of Work Conn. Health I-Team Lisa Chedekel 2013 Beat Reporting

These beat stories report on nursing homes, Medicare, and child care in Connecticut. 

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ADHD nation The New York Times Alan Schwarz 2013 Public Health (large)


Place: Second Place

This series of articles looks at how doctors practice medicine and intensive marketing by the pharmaceutical industry have made the diagnosis of ADHD, and the prescription of drugs with significant risks, alarmingly common.

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Science of Snake Oil? USA TODAY Liz Szabo 2013 Investigative (large)

This story investigated a Houston doctor named Stanislaw Burzynski, who for 36 years has claimed to be able to treat many otherwise incurable cancers -- although the National Cancer Institute says there's no definitive evidence that he's ever cured anyone. The story also examined his relationship with the Food and Drug Administration, which has allowed him to operate a clinical trial for 17 years. 

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Let's Move (Faster) on Childhood Obesity msnbc.com Geoffrey Cowley 2013 Health Policy (large)

Despite some major advances in food policy—notably an overhaul of the federal school lunch program and a national rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus—the Obama administration has dropped or delayed critical measures to combat childhood obesity. With other priorities crowding the president’s second-term agenda, health advocates fear that food and nutrition issues may be sidelined yet again. But with focus and resolve, this administration could still reverse the obesity pandemic. The article examines three initiatives that stalled during the first term, and assesses the prospects for reviving them during the second.

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Bush Promised Iraqi Civilians a Better Future. What Are Their Lives Like Now? msnbc.com Geoffrey Cowley 2013 Public Health (large)

To mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, this story investigated the war's impact on public health. According to the best available evidence, the effort to topple a dictator ended up displacing 3 million people, poisoning the country’s environment, damaging water and sanitation systems, and crippling an already shaky health care system.

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How to make a food desert bloom msnbc.com Geoffrey Cowley 2013 Public Health (large)

Birmingham, Ala., is as good a place as any in America to see a broken food system and the seedlings of a healthier one. As the city’s low-income residents scrape by on 99-cent mega sodas and packaged fried pork skins, an unlikely coalition of foodies, farmers, business leaders and public agencies is coming together to change the city’s food environment. This piece describes the city's unhealthy food environment and chronicles a promising, multi-pronged effort to improve it.

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Millions Are About to Get Health Insurance. Will They Get Care? msnbc.com Geoffrey Cowley 2013 Health Policy (large)

The Affordable Care Act will cause the biggest surge in health coverage the country has seen in decades. The U.S. doesn't have a fraction of the primary-care physicians needed to meet the new demand. But as this article shows, training more doctors is not the only remedy—or the best one. Decades of research show that nurse practitioners and other “advance-practice” RNs can handle 70% - 90% of our medical needs, often achieving better outcomes than doctors at significantly lower cost. The article chronicles the rise of nurse-managed health centers in Philadelphia, and shows how this model of primary care could strengthen the nation's health care system.

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The art of eradicating polio Science Magazine Leslie Roberts 2013 Public Health (small)


Place: First Place

The world is close to eradicating polio, but Nigeria, one of just three endemic countries in the world, stands in the way. Children in Nigeria continue to be needlessly paralyzed by a vaccine-preventable disease, and the virus from Nigeria has repeatedly jumped borders and has reinfected more than 20 countries that were previously polio-free. Science spent three days on the road with Nigeria's then-minister of state for health, chronicling his surprisingly personal effort to finally chase the virus from his country.

Judges' comments: Leslie Roberts skillfully explored a widely misunderstood public health story – why is it that many Nigerians refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated against polio? While making the global health implications clear, the article took us to the front lines, where workers (some of whom have died in the effort) encounter people who have so many unmet needs, it is hard for them to comprehend why this one vaccination is the only health measure provided. The piece also offered insight into how Nigeria's minister of state for health appears to be succeeding where so many have failed – while noting that he is stepping away from leading this fight.

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Women Surgeons Face Childbearing Challenges Frontline Medical Communications (Formerly IMNG) Michele Sullivan, Neil Osterweil 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story provides the results and analysis of a survey conducted by Dr. Elizabeth A. Phillips on the reproductive health of female surgeons. Phillips and her colleagues found that female surgeons delay childbearing and are three times more likely to use reproduction techniques to conceive, compared with the general population. 

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Jeff Hansel's 2013 Body of Work Post-Bulletin Jeff Hansel 2013 Beat Reporting

The stories in this beat reported on the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. 

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Breast Cancer: One Woman's Story Voice of America Carol A Pearson, Michael Kornely, Michael Burke 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

"Breast Cancer: One Woman's Story" is a five-part series about a breast cancer patient's journey from diagnosis through surgery. Part one focuses on the diagnosis and why the patient suspected something was wrong beforehand. Part two is a personal look at chemotherapy. Part three focuses on the patient's attitude and her efforts to manage stress. Part four is about the patient's decision to have a double mastectomy, although the cancer was only in her left breast. Part five explores survivability.

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Life, Death, and PTSD in Oakland Freelance / East Bay Express Rebecca Ruiz 2013 Public Health (small)

This story focuses on community violence, trauma and youth post-traumatic stress disorder in Oakland, Calif. Through interviews with educators, clinicians and young adults, the piece offers readers an intimate look at the types of chronic trauma children in Oakland confront on a daily basis. It also explores community initiatives and efforts to identify affected children and help them to not only manage symptoms of trauma, but also to recover from PTSD. The piece shows that many children in disadvantaged neighborhoods suffer psychologically as a result of exposure to violence. While there are support services for them, local experts suggest the demand far outpaces the need.

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25 Years of Care and Advocacy Freelance / Vermont Medicine Magazine Sarah Bellin Zobel 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This story provides a look at Vermont's statewide network of treatment facilities for individuals with HIV and AIDS. Established in the early years of the AIDS crisis, the Comprehensive Care Clinics were initially set up within other medical centers--generally cancer treatment centers--so patients wouldn't feel stigmatized by having to go to an AIDS clinic. The four CCCs, located in the corners of the state, provide a range of care, and although the clinics are no longer a part of other centers, there is still an effort to make them feel "safe." In a state with such a small population, there's an erroneous assumption that HIV/AIDS is no longer a concern--while at the same time considerable misunderstanding about what it means to be HIV positive.

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Politics of Prevention The Texas Tribune Becca Aaronson 2013 Health Policy (large)

In 2013, two years after Texas’ Republican leadership slashed funding for family planning in an effort to put Planned Parenthood out of business, Texas was still a hotbed of debate on women’s health and abortion. Though state lawmakers banded together in the regular legislative session to restore family planning financing to help low-income women prevent unintended pregnancies, partisan debate on new abortion regulations — spearheaded by Texas Gov. Rick Perry — still divided the Legislature in a special session. The Texas Tribune covers the state's women's health debate in this ongoing series, “The Politics of Prevention,” which documents the looming legal battle over Texas’ new abortion restrictions and the ongoing effects of the state’s family planning policies on contraception and cancer-screening programs for low-income women.

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Was Closing the Rochester State Hospital a Good Idea? Post-Bulletin Jeff Hansel 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

A man by the name of Roger Sprague often calls the Post-Bulletin, essentially, to vent about his difficult life. He mentioned he once was a patient at the Rochester (Minn.) State Hospital. That led to the idea that perhaps, 30 years later, the newspaper should consider whether closing the facility in the 1980s was a good idea. The reporter sought former residents/patients and staff and interviewed locals with current mental health expertise. The story included Roger Sprague, who triggered the original story idea and continues to struggle, and a woman who received treatment, recovered and is happy with her life. This feature used historical storytelling about the evolution of the hospital.

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Have a heart: Organ donation & transplantation in Louisiana Healthcare Journal of New Orleans Karen Stassi 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)


Place: Third Place

An overview of the process and status of organ donation and transplantation in Louisiana. Karen Stassi reports that the percentage of Louisiana adults that are registered as organ donors, as well as the per capita number of actual donors, far outstrips rates in most of the country and indeed the world. Louisiana’s rate of approximately 35 deceased donors per million population is similar to Spain, which boasts the highest rate of any country in the world. At the same time, in Louisiana about 1,700 people are waiting for organ transplants, 90 percent of them for kidneys.

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Blood Sample Screening Dispute Awaits Hearing Post-Bulletin Jeff Hansel 2013 Investigative (small)

The Citizens' Council for Health Freedom has been in a long-running battle with the Minnesota Department of Health over newborn blood-screening samples. This story revealed that Mayo Clinic handles all newborn screening in the state of Minnesota — and has a contract with the state to do so (meaning investigative reporters may eventually be able to use the Minnesota Data Practices Act to gather additional information about the testing from Mayo).

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Hit or Miss: Jury Remains Out on Health Insurance Exchanges US Healthcare Journals Karen Elizabeth Stassi 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story provides an overview of Health Insurance Exchanges, Louisiana's position on creating an exchange, and what that means to providers, insurers, consumers, etc.

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Christie Aschwanden's 2013 Body of Work Freelance Christie Aschwanden 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories encourage readers to make informed, evidence-based health decisions that adhere to their values. In each case, the report takes a close look at common medical practices and explain why, for individuals in certain situations, they may be inappropriate, despite desires to use them. These stories, especially the MORE magazine feature, encourage readers to engage in conversations with their doctors to make medical decisions that are right for them.

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Living Without Insurance: Roll Out to Affordable Care Act Reno Gazette-Journal Jason Hidalgo, Liz Margerum, videographer, 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This story gives readers an in-depth and personal picture of what it's like to live without insurance through the eyes of folks in the Reno, Nev. community. 

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Health in Salem, Ore. Statesman Journal Saerom Yoo 2013 Beat Reporting

The four stories in this beat cover health issues in Salem, Ore.

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Heroin: Overdose of Reality Beaver County (Penn.) Times Jenny Wagner 2013 Public Health (small)

This three-part series exploring the rapid increase in heroin use, addiction and overdose deaths in The (Beaver County, Penn.) Times' coverage area. The stories focused on the problem of heroin abuse and overdoses locally; the toll of heroin use on individuals and the community; and the role of law enforcement in combating the drug problem.

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Step by step: The path to ending child mortality GlobalPost special reports team 2013 Public Health (large)


Place: First Place

Correspondents across Africa and Asia examined what works and what doesn’t in the battle to end the nearly 7 million preventable child deaths that occur each year around the world. Reporters were dispatched to India, Bangladesh, Uganda, Zambia and Myanmar. The multimedia series brought to light untold stories from the most hard-to-reach places: the effects of corruption on malaria control in Uganda, the tension between pneumonia treatment and prevention in Zambia and the shortcomings of neonatal care in India. Investigative pieces from Washington documented how budget cuts threaten global health spending and how a well-intentioned global campaign to end child deaths has been hindered by a lack of coordination and funding.

Judges' comments: A vast and extraordinarily informative survey of child mortality around the world. The scope of the staff reporting is breath-taking and the variety of media used to tell the story make it all the more compelling. Particularly effective was the interactive map showing the number of deaths before age 5 per population for nearly every country in the world. Much of the series is grim but a note of optimism pervades because the survey points to relatively simple fixes in many areas if the public will is there. This report will go a long way toward galvanizing that will.

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Understanding Obamacare: POLITICO's Guide to the Affordable Care Act Politico David Nather 2013 Health Policy (large)

This story is a guide to the Affordable Care Act, written for a broad readership but full of reader-friendly explanations of the policies and the politics. The story launched during the start of open enrollment on Oct. 1. It explained and checked facts related to ACA. Two ACA stories also led Politico's website: one on how the law affects businesses, and one on how many doctors haven't figured out how the law will affect them.

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Ruby de Luna's 2013 Body of Work KUOW Public Radio Ruby de Luna 2013 Beat Reporting

This beat focused on human concerns and individuals in our medical system and public policy. In these stories, the reporter focuses on Alzheimer's, dementia, and the Affordable Care Act.

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Why We Can't Trust Clinical Guidelines Freelance / The New Republic Jeanne Lenzer 2013 Health Policy (large)

Clinical guidelines, often sponsored by prestigious professional organizations, drive vast swaths of medical care, from the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes, to screening for prostate and breast cancer. When guidelines are written by individuals and sponsored by organizations with financial conflicts of interest, harms to public health can be serious and widespread. The article addresses the question: Why do processes intended to prevent or reduce bias fail?

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Why We Can't Trust Clinical Guidelines Freelance / The New Republic Jeanne Lenzer 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Clinical guidelines, often sponsored by prestigious professional organizations, drive vast swaths of medical care, from the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes, to screening for prostate and breast cancer. When guidelines are written by individuals and sponsored by organizations with financial conflicts of interest, harms to public health can be serious and widespread. The article addresses the question: Why do processes intended to prevent or reduce bias fail?

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Heather Boerner's 2013 Body of Work Freelance / Al Jazeera, KPBS, National Nurse magazine Heather A Boerner 2013 Beat Reporting

Health care access and quality of cary vary for undocumented immigrants and their children depending on the location and political climates in which they live. Because of that, immigrants and providers who care for them must fly under the radar, sometimes leaving patients with serious unmet physical and emotional health needs. This story reports on undocumented immigrant health in the United States.

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Contaminated Burgers Trigger Changes 20 Years Later KUOW Public Radio Ruby de Luna 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

The Food and Drug Administration recently proposed the most sweeping changes to food safety rules in 70 years. The new rules were triggered by a series of food-borne illness outbreaks. Twenty years ago Seattle was at the epicenter of one of the earliest and most notorious outbreaks. Hundreds of people got sick from eating contaminated burgers. For Connie Chrobuck, it was a meal that would change her family’s life. In this two-part series, the reporter revisits the case that set the nation on a path toward safer food, and why it's taking so long.

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Multi-Status Families Brace for Health Reform Freelance / Voice of San Diego and KPBS.org Heather Boerner 2013 Public Health (large)

As the ACA is implemented, millions more immigrants will have access to health coverage, as will uninsured low-income Americans. Left behind will be undocumented immigrants and those in families where some people are citizens and some are undocumented. This story looks at the human toll of our fractured healthcare and immigration systems, as well as the financial costs to all of us. 

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Nursing Without Borders Freelance / National Nurse magazine Heather Boerner 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story examines what it means to care for people regardless of national origin. It lays out research on the effect of living in a country without documentation, and describes things providers might miss if they aren't sensitive to the ways that undocumented immigrants are stigmatized -- primarily the aversion to asking for help, a different definition of what it means to be healthy, and the real health needs of undocumented immigrants.

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Your Top Health Insurance Challenges -- Solved! Freelance / Better Homes and Gardens Heather Boerner 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Using data from Better Homes and Gardens readers, this story highlights the biggest insurance challenges--copays, coinsurance, out-of-pocket costs, appeals, prescription costs--and then ask experts, consumer advocates and others to provide guidance on how to address each of them.

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Kettleman City Vida en el Valle Maria G. Ortiz-Briones 2013 Public Health (large)

Residents of the rural Kings County, Calif. community of Kettleman City continue their opposition to the possible expansion of a nearby hazardous waste landfill. Health concerns include pollution from pesticides, diesel emissions and contaminated drinking water. In 2008, Waste Management applied for the expansion of the controversial landfill, which is about 3.5 miles from Kettleman City. The state has yet to approve the expansion. Local activists and residents have partnered with Greenaction, a San Francisco-based organization, to fight the expansion and to improve the health in Kettleman City.

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Rethinking the formula Nature Medicine Roxanne Khamsi 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters


Place: First Place

Health insurance covers drugs approved by regulatory agencies, but it often doesn't pay for the products known as "medical foods" needed to keep individuals alive and well. This lack of reimbursement means that many who cannot afford these life-saving diets suffer brain deterioration and disability — or worse. This news feature reports on the battle for medical foods and how it could affect the treatment of diseases as diverse as osteoporosis and Alzheimer's.

Judges' comments: The reporter details the high price tag and difficulties patients can have securing life-sustaining "medical foods." Khamsi's thorough research, historical context and examination of market economics raises questions about why "medical food" is not considered a drug, and as such isn't covered by insurance companies. Khamsi expertly weaves all of this together to create a compelling narrative about an underreported but important issue.

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Making the Connection Freelance / Esperanza Maureen Salamon 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

Depression and loneliness often go hand-in-hand, and this article profiles three people for whom loneliness has contributed to depressive symptoms -- and vice-versa. Experts also weigh in on the research that has been done on the phenomenon -- which has linked depression and loneliness for the last four decades -- and offer advice and coping mechanisms to help those with depression to resist the pull to wall themselves off.

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A Universal Problem Freelance / Nature Medicine Hannah Hoag 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Influenza causes as many as 500,000 deaths annually. The virus is constantly changing, challenging scientists to make a vaccine that matches the circulating flu viruses and protects people for the upcoming flu season. But the cost to do so runs close to $4 billion annually. A universal flu vaccine that protects against all flu viruses could save lives and money, and scientists are getting closer to creating one. This article tells the story of a key discovery in the hunt for a universal flu vaccine--and how it was ignored for 20 years because the research community put too much trust in a flawed test, and ignored a lone researcher's results.

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The robot will see you now The Atlantic Jonathan Cohn 2013 Health Policy (small)


Place: First Place

Using the development of IBM's "Watson" computer as a peg, the article considers whether we are on the cusp of a major revolution in medical care – and, if so, whether it would be a change for better or worse. A catalyst for this revolution will be health care reform and the pressure it applies on providers to deliver care at lower costs. In theory, this revolution could help professionals deliver better care – and it could help patients to stay healthy, so they never need medical care. History is littered with examples of such transformations not happening – particularly in health care. And what are the possible downsides? Will insurers use this technology to skimp on care, for example? The article explores these questions, by taking a close-up look at some of the innovations, panning back to see how medical care might already be changing, and then exploring the implications for policy-makers.

Judges' comments: Jonathan Cohn's "The Robot will See You Now" broke new ground in assembling a broad picture of the promising, disruptive power of data and computing technology to improve health care delivery and control its cost. Exhaustive reporting and the unusual clarity of Cohn's writing made an unfamiliar, complex subject easily accessible – and fascinating – to the general reader.

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The Price of Pill Addiction Daytona Beach News-Journal Lacey Elizabeth McLaughlin 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This story documents the recovery of a young couple who nearly lost their children because of prescription drug abuse.

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Two Lives: Why Are You Not Dead Yet? Slate Laura Helmuth 2013 Public Health (large)


Place: Third Place

This is an eight-part series examining why life expectancy doubled in the past 150 years. Coverage examines public health initiatives that contributed to the increase, how increased life expectancy changed human society, and death in childbirth and the fight to this day between doctors and midwives. The fourth piece is a quirky list of surprising innovations that increased life expectancy. One piece examines the debate about whether lifespan will continue to increase. An interactive game allows people to go back to a certain year in time, spin the wheel of fate, and see how they likely would have died in that year. A video story presents song/comedy routine send-up of mindless alternative medicine. Finally, the series ends with a collection of readers' emails and Twitter messages about why they aren't dead yet.

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Special Report: Lurking Inside Every Headline, PTSD for Emergency Physicians Freelance / Emergency Medical News Anne Scheck 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Emergency physicians see a lot of horrible things at work, and just because they get used to it doesn't mean it doesn't affect them. More and more, they are finding that they suffer the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. One study found that four percent of Canadian emergency physicians met the criteria for PTSD, and that number is likely to grow as more physicians admit they aren't superhumans.

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When Nurses Fail Star Tribune Brandon Stahl 2013 Investigative (large)

The Star Tribune’s “When Nurses Fail” investigative series examined how Minnesota disciplines nurses who violate their licenses by harming patients, stealing narcotics, practicing while impaired or committing other misconduct. The stories showed how the state puts patients at risk by giving multiple chances to many of these nurses. The newspaper also revealed how nurses can continue to commit drug-related misconduct while under state monitoring, and it identified flaws in the background checks that allow nurses with records of problems to obtain licenses and jobs.

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Caring For Kevin WBUR Boston Rachel Zimmerman, George Hicks, Jesse Costa 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

People with autism face tremendous barriers in getting the medical care they need. That's one conclusion from a recent Massachusetts commission report. For patients who are unable to communicate with their doctors, the obstacles are even greater. More broadly this raises the question: Can intellectually disabled people expect the same level of medical care as everyone else? To find out, Rachel Zimmerman, co-host of WBUR's Commonhealth blog, followed one man's journey to regain his eyesight, in this multimedia report.

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True Beauty The Courier-Journal Laura Ungar, Christa Ritchie 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

This story recounts one breast cancer patient's mission to spread the message that true beauty is defined by confidence, kindness and love, and cannot be erased by illness.

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Laura Ungar's 2013 Body of Work The Courier-Journal Laura Ungar 2013 Beat Reporting

"True Beauty" profiles a Louisville woman dying of breast cancer who is devoting the rest of her life to spreading a message that illness cannot erase beauty. "Kentucky Families Struggle..." is the tale of a family dealing with a violent, mentally ill child in a disjointed mental health system. The Medicaid expansion story is a tale of adjacent states where options for poor residents are starkly different under the Affordable Care Act. The 3-D heart story focuses on a local scientist at the forefront of a growing technology who envisions someday creating 3-D hearts that could replace transplanted organs.

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This Little Clinic Said No to Big Pharma Bend Bulletin Markian Hawryluk 2013 Investigative (small)

The story chronicles how a rural physicians' clinic came to the decision to ban drug sales reps from its practice, and explores the problem of pharmaceutical industry influence over physician prescribing patterns. The doctors had been reluctant to lose the drugs samples the reps brought because they served many low income patients. Once they realized the samples were primarily brand-name drugs that started patients on expensive regimens, they realized they weren't losing much by closing their doors to drug reps.

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Deadly Delays Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff 2013 Investigative (large)


Place: First Place

Nearly every baby born in the United States has blood collected within a day or two of birth to be screened for dozens of genetic disorders. Each year, newborn screening is credited with saving or improving the lives of more than 12,000 babies in the United States. The entire premise of newborn screening is to detect disorders quickly so babies can be treated early, averting death and preventing or limiting brain damage, disability and a lifetime of costly medical care.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that thousands of hospitals — and dozens of state agencies that oversee the programs — are failing America’s children due to an ineffective and unaccountable newborn screening system wracked by deadly delays. As a result, children who should be diagnosed and treated shortly after birth are suffering preventable brain damage, disability and even death — as if they had been born decades before today’s screening tests and treatments were available.

Judges' comments: This team dug into reams of hard-to-acquire state data to find that thousands of hospitals have been failing to screen newborns for genetic diseases, putting those children at risk of serious illness or death. And the government was failing to hold them accountable. We were impressed with how the reporters made this both a local and a national story. Although the reporting was data-driven, the stories of the lives destroyed left a heavy emotional impact on the reader. The series was deeply reported, precisely edited and engagingly packaged. The results were profound: Confronted with data about their own nonperformance – numbers some had never seen before – hospitals immediately acted to improve. Health associations, states and even Congress took action to better monitor the timeliness of newborn screening which, thanks to the series, is poised to become an official measure in the hospital accreditation process.

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Stacey Singer DeLoye's 2014 Body of Work The Palm Beach Post Stacey Singer DeLoye 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories cover the health care system in Florida during 2013, including mental health, health insurance, elder care, and health reform.

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Overdose ProPublica Jeff Gerth and T. Christian Miller 2013 Health Policy (large)


Place: Third Place

Overdose is the first full accounting of the damage done by acetaminophen – a medicine marketed for its safety – and the failings of federal officials to act as they confronted increasingly definitive evidence of its danger. The first piece detailed the narrow margin for error in administering acetaminophen, a concern that first surfaced in the late 1970s. They established that McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes Tylenol, had fought for decades against measures meant to safeguard users and that the FDA’s inaction continued for decades The second major piece in the series used the tragic tale of the Hutto family to show how McNeil and the FDA had delayed acting for years to tackle a well-known medical mix-up that had resulted in an untold number of deaths and injuries to infants and children’s over the decades. The third major piece showed how a simple safety valve called a flow restrictor could prevent up to 10,000 visits per year to the emergency room for kids who accidentally get into liquid medicines.

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A Tricorder at Last Medical Discovery News Christina Yao Lee, Dr. Norbert Herzog, Dr. David Niesel 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

The tricorder, named for a fictional diagnostic tool on the TV series Star Trek, is becoming a reality through advances courtesy of the Scanadu Company. When pointed at a person's forehead, it can noninvasively read a number of vital signs.

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The Male Pill Medical Discovery News Pamela K Bond, Dr. Norbert Herzog, Dr. David Niesel 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This column takes a look at research to develop the first contraceptive pill for men, including how it would work within the body.

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Air of Risk The Press-Enterprise David Matthew Danelski, Cathy Armstrong, Stan Lim 2013 Public Health (large)

"Air of Risk" is a grant-supported package of eight stories, plus photos, graphics and online elements focusing on the health consequences of industrial growth -- and its resulting air pollution -- in Inland Southern California. The stories examine health, economics and politics against the backdrop of pending warehouse development that would hugely increase diesel truck traffic in the region.

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Chronic crisis Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Meg Kissinger 2013 Health Policy (large)


Place: Second Place

This investigation explored why mental health care in Milwaukee County, Wis., is especially ineffective. It found that Milwaukee politicians – for decades – have ignored calls for reform. Doctors are bound by the strictest time constraints in the country, allowing them 24 hours to observe patients considered dangerous., and a data analysis found that people returned for care at an alarming rate. One woman had been seen 196 times in six years, an average of once every 11 days. A big part of this project was to identify ways that the system could improve, requiring travel to other places to look at communities that do a better job.

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Study of Nonverbal Autism Must Go Beyond Words, Experts Say Freelance / SFARI.org Sarah DeWeerdt 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Roughly 25 percent of people with autism speak few or no words. To better understand and treat nonverbal autism, the field paradoxically must move beyond focusing on speech production, say many researchers. Emerging research suggests that seemingly unrelated issues such as motor skills and joint attention may instead be key.

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Margot Sanger-Katz's 2013 Body of Work National Journal Margot Sanger-Katz 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories provide an overview of Sanger-Katz's health beat. One is a deep dive into the local economy of Pittsburgh, a city that has been buoyed by an influx of health care jobs and is struggling against the problems that an expanding health sector can bring. Another forecasts the technical challenges that have plagued the Affordable Care Act's online exchange systems. And another looks at a particularly promising private-sector innovation, Wal-Mart's move to offer its sickest employees access to the best surgeons in the country.

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The Business of Spinal Implants The Daytona Beach News-Journal Skyler Swisher 2013 Business (small)

A businessman with connections to the top benefactor of a 678-bed public hospital system was given the inside track on becoming the hospital's primary supplier of spinal implants and stood to gain more than $1 million from the deal.

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Elizabeth Simpson's 2013 Body of Work The Virginian-Pilot Elizabeth Simpson 2013 Beat Reporting

Stories submitted from this beat include end-of-life care and how it contributes to the high cost of health care, how cancer screening can uncover tumors that would never harm, and the deinstitutionalization of America, all through the eyes of specific patients, rather than through talking heads and politicians.

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Health Exchanges: Anticipating Technology Snafus HealthPolicySolutions.org Katie Kerwin McCrimmon 2013 Beat Reporting

This beat reports on Colorado's ACA health exchange. The reporter found that the design of Colorado's system was problematic since lawmakers set up the exchange outside of state government. The reporter obtained records showing that exchange managers and state Medicaid managers were fighting behind the scenes. She reported that the conflicts were so serious that the two entities needed an outside mediator. Ultimately, they failed to build a unified sign-up system for customers. As a result, Colorado's complex system has slowed sign-ups and customers have had to deal with a system that one exchange board member called "odious and embarrassing."

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Overdose ProPublica Jeff Gerth and T. Christian Miller 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)


Place: First Place

Overdose is the first full accounting of the damage done by acetaminophen – a medicine marketed for its safety – and the failings of federal officials to act as they confronted increasingly definitive evidence of its danger. The first piece detailed the narrow margin for error in administering acetaminophen, a concern that first surfaced in the late 1970s. They established that McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes Tylenol, had fought for decades against measures meant to safeguard users and that the FDA’s inaction continued for decades The second major piece in the series used the tragic tale of the Hutto family to show how McNeil and the FDA had delayed acting for years to tackle a well-known medical mix-up that had resulted in an untold number of deaths and injuries to infants and children’s over the decades. The third major piece showed how a simple safety valve called a flow restrictor could prevent up to 10,000 visits per year to the emergency room for kids who accidentally get into liquid medicines.

Judges' comments: Exhaustive reporting, concise writing and heartbreaking videography on a health topic that affects a vast swath of the public all combine to make this ProPublica package a clear winner. More than 10,000 pages of FDA documents, court records and scientific journals going back decades were reviewed for this project, which demonstrates federal and corporate failures to keep families safe from liver failure and death that can be caused by miscalculating safe doses of the over-the-counter drug acetaminophen.

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Ibby Caputo's 2013 Body of Work WGBH News Ibby Caputo 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories seek to raise awareness about disparities in health care. "Unseen, Mortal Wounds: The Struggle to Prevent Veteran Suicides" is about the difficulties soldiers face when they come back from combat, and the startling rate of veterans who commit suicide (22 a day). "Brockton Clinic Working Ahead of the Health Care Curve" looks at how health clinics that focus on poor and minority care are leading the nation in the medical home model of patient-centered care. "Boston Chlamydia Rates Rise While Sex Education Lags Behind" addresses the need for comprehensive sexual health education in Boston public schools. "MassHealth Leaves Many Adults Without Dental Care" looks at the hardships low-income residents face when they need oral health care.

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Amy Jeter's 2013 Body of Work The Virginian-Pilot Amy Jeter 2013 Beat Reporting

Stories in this beat cover gun violence, stolen computerized health information, Virginia's state abortion clinics, and ACA-based insurance options.

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Power to the Patient The Virginian-Pilot Elizabeth Simpson 2013 Health Policy (large)

This story reported on health care dollars spent on end-of-life care and highlighted various patients who represent various end-of-life experiences. One patientopted not to go on dialysis. Another went whole-hog on heart care, and another tackled cancer for a while, and then stopped at a point when she felt her quality of life was not what it should be.

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Cancer Signs? Watch, Wait The Virginian-Pilot Elizabeth Simpson 2013 Public Health (large)

This story is about the subject of cancer screening, and how some tumors are detected that would never do any harm. The author highlights from the viewpoint of a man who opted not to treat prostate cancer, and a woman who aggressively attacked an early form of breast cancer.

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John Fauber's 2013 Body of Work Milwaukee Journal Sentinel John Fauber 2013 Beat Reporting


Place: Second Place

Three of the stories are part of the Journal Sentinel’s ongoing coverage of financial conflicts of interest and how they have affected the practice of medicine in America. The fourth was an installment in the Journal Sentinel’s “Deadly Delays” series on problems in the nation’s newborn screening system. In one story, Fauber learned that one of the nation’s leading experts on how to safely prescribe narcotic painkillers, such as OxyContin, had as many as 20 overdose deaths among patients at his clinic and was under investigation by the DEA. In another story, Fauber introduced readers to the murky new world of “venture philanthropy,” where for-profit drug companies work hand-in-hand with nonprofit charities to develop new treatments, often with the help of taxpayer money. As part of his ongoing investigations of the opioid epidemic, Fauber examined hundreds of pages of emails detailing a decade-long, cozy relationship between drug company executives and regulators at the FDA. Finally, Fauber looked into state medical labs around the country that are charged with testing blood samples from newborns for various dozens of genetic disorders. He found that labs in 27 states were closed on weekends leading to delays in diagnosing diseases that can cause serious symptoms or deaths in babies.

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Profits Over Care: For-Profit Methadone in Central Florida The Daytona Beach News-Journal Skyler Swisher 2013 Investigative (small)

Daytona Beach's for-profit methadone clinic received exceptional scores from state regulators, despite having counselor caseloads two to three times higher than they were supposed to be under state law. This story investigates why.

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Smashed Freelance / Shape magazine Joy Manning 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

This story explores the growing population of women who regularly binge drink -- 70 percent of whom are over the age of 26, and many of whom are well-educated, well-paid, and career-oriented. While these women don't fit the criteria for alcoholism, they put themselves at risk for immediate and future health problems, from drunk driving and risky sexual behavior to breast cancer and Type 2 diabetes. The reporter spoke to three women who have learned to moderate (or eliminate) their alcohol intake after months or years of abuse, and to doctors who explain the gap between what's culturally and socially acceptable and what's actually safe.

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Diabetes Management Series Freelance / Hospitals and Health Networks magazine Geri Aston 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The number of Americans with diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. About 26 million Americans have the condition and some estimates suggest that the number will grow to half of all Americans by 2020. Diabetes costs the health care system $116 billion annually. In this series, we took a comprehensive look at how hospitals and health systems are trying to better manage the condition in their communities. There are significant implications — both from a cost and quality of care standpoint — in improving care for this population.

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Transgender Teen Settles Landmark Health Case HealthPolicySolutions.org Katie Kerwin McCrimmon 2013 Health Policy (small)

In 2013, Colorado became one of four states (along with the District of Columbia) to bar unequal care for transgender patients. While covering issues related to LGBT health care, the reporter learned that a teenager had filed a civil rights complaint against one of the biggest insurance companies in our state, Kaiser Permanente. Health access is critical to transgender people like Alex Manigault. But for years, most insurance policies have specifically excluded coverage for transgender patients. Alex settled his case with Kaiser Permanente and ultimately allowed Health Policy Solutions to photograph him and chronicle his story. The opportunity to share a teenager's journey as he transitioned from female to male made for a remarkable story and Alex's decision to humanize the issue may have influenced policy makers and insurance executives. By year's end, every health insurance carrier in Colorado had pledged to provide equal care to transgender patients. Other states are likely to follow suit as the Affordable Care Act requires equal care for LGBT patients.

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You've Survived a TBI, but Will Your Marriage? Wolters Kluwer Health Michael William Smolinsky, Gina Shaw, Dr. Robin Brey 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a common neurologic condition, can take a devastating toll on relationships. Neurologists and psychologists are just starting to look more closely at how to help patients recover emotionally and sustain relationships after TBI.

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Reproductive Clinic Vida en el Valle Maria G. Ortiz-Briones 2013 Health Policy (large)

This story reports on the Kings County (Calif.) Reproductive Health Clinic, a place where uninsured women can have access to breast and cervical cancer screening. Supporters were vocal at many of the Kings County Board of Supervisors board meetings, providing statistics, facts, personal stories, and countless arguments about why the closure of the clinic was more harmful to the community and why it was important to maintain the clinic open. The clinic specialized in women’s health in Kings County, which is considered a rural area with a high number of uninsured people. The clinic had 4,200 patients. Also Kings County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state of California. The all-male board voted 4 to 1 to close down the reproductive health clinic on Jan. 1, 2014.

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Medicaid Expansion Key to Obamacare The Morning Call Timothy Darragh, Steve Esack, 2013 Health Policy (small)

As Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett considered whether to expand the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, The Morning Call showed the environment as it was at the time -- hundreds of thosands of working people too "wealthy" to qualify for Medicaid, but too poor to be covered by the Affordable Care Act. This coverage gap became a well-known item in news coverage in later months, but was little known up to that point.

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Supplement shell game: The people behind risky pills USA Today Alison Young, John Hillkirk and Shannon Rae Green 2013 Investigative (large)


Place: Second Place

An investigation by USA Today reporter Alison Young revealed that a wide array of dietary supplement companies selling products dangerously spiked with hidden pharmaceuticals are headed by executives with criminal backgrounds and run-ins with regulators. They’re convicted felons, thieves, drug addicts, narcotic sellers and more, the reporting revealed. And once they enter the lucrative, $30-billion-a-year supplement business, almost anything goes. Criminal turned supplement entrepreneurs have repeatedly put risky products on the market through a changing series of companies as overwhelmed regulators struggled to keep up. Their pills and powders have included everything from a sleep-aid laced with a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to a widely sold workout supplement spiked with a methamphetamine-like chemical never before tested on people.

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The Test of a Lifetime Wolters Kluwer Health Michael William Smolinsky, Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H., Dr. Robin Brey 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Screening for certain rare genetic disorders such as Krabbe disease could save lives--based on a $1 test performed at birth. This story reports.

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Fighting Polio From 1950 Virginia to 2013 India The Virginian-Pilot Amy Jeter 2013 Public Health (large)

The summer of 1950 brought one of the most punishing polio outbreaks in U.S. history to rural Wytheville in southwestern Virginia. Half a century later, after vaccines had killed off the disease in most of the world, polio drew a target on India and fixed the bull's-eye to a northern district known for its brass exports: Moradabad. This narrative two-part series explores the stories of two communities fighting polio in different times and places.

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Life and death in assisted living ProPublica and Frontline A.C. Thompson and Jonathan Jones 2013 Business (large)


Place: Second Place

In contrast to other reports on assisted living, we closely scrutinized the internal mechanics of the nation’s largest provider, Emeritus Senior Living, which is emblematic of the industry’s transformation from grassroots movement to major industry. We reported on the company’s intense drive for profits and cases of suffering of frail seniors in its roughly 500 facilities, revealing for the first time the circumstances surrounding the death of George McAfee, an NFL Hall of Famer with dementia who died after accidentally drinking poisonous dishwashing liquid in what was supposed to be a safe, secure building.

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Living With Pain Wolters Kluwer Health Michael William Smolinsky, Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H., Dr. Robin Brey 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Chronic pain can increase the risk of suicide, but good treatment helps people choose life. This story reports on links between physical and mental health.

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Healing in the Hills The Virginian-Pilot Amy Jeter 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

A Norfolk medical school student travels to a rural health fair and learns how to connect with lower-income patients. This story reports.

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Planning for the end: A look at advance directives in New Hampshire New Hampshire Public Radio Todd Bookman 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)


Place: Second Place

Only one-quarter of adults in New Hampshire have completed advance directive forms, also called living wills, despite efforts by legislators, health care workers and advocates to increase their use. One problem is an outdated, confusing form prescribed in state law that slows the process and, on occasion, precludes out-of-state advance directives from being honored in medical facilities in New Hampshire. This series looked at changes being made to the form, the controversial history of end-of-life care, and also investigated why people remain hesitant to complete the document. It also highlighted some successful efforts around the state to get conversations around death and dying started. The final piece looked at the convoluted legal process some families find themselves in when loved ones haven’t left clear direction for their medical wishes. The stories shared viewpoints of families and doctors facing end-of-life decisions, as well as the pressure health care proxies can face in carrying out those desires.

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Tim Darragh's 2013 Body of Work The Morning Call Timothy Darragh, Steve Esack 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories outlined issues related to the Affordable Care Act. Ths first reported on a little-known tax in the ACA that was about to be assessed on businesses. The second reported on ways the ACA will impact physicians and how they're using assistants to provide additional coverage. The third reported on Gov. Corbett's suggested alternative to ACA Medicaid expansion. The final was a detailed primer about where to get ACA, what to ask for and how to get help, using real life examples for people who might be eligible for ACA coverage.

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Who Stands to Gain? Statesman Journal Saerom Yoo 2013 Health Policy (small)

This article reports the stories of Oregon's most vulnerable consumers of health care to illustrate the potential impacts of the Affordable Care Act. People from diverse walks of life who have had difficulty in the old health insurance system -- the very people the Affordable Care Act aimed to offer some relief -- were still affected. They were young, old, single, married and parents with young children.

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Life and death in assisted living ProPublica and Frontline A.C. Thompson and Jonathan Jones 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)


Place: Second Place

In contrast to other reports on assisted living, we closely scrutinized the internal mechanics of the nation’s largest provider, Emeritus Senior Living, which is emblematic of the industry’s transformation from grassroots movement to major industry. We reported on the company’s intense drive for profits and cases of suffering of frail seniors in its roughly 500 facilities, revealing for the first time the circumstances surrounding the death of George McAfee, an NFL Hall of Famer with dementia who died after accidentally drinking poisonous dishwashing liquid in what was supposed to be a safe, secure building.

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Milton Carrero's 2013 Body of Work The Morning Call Milton Carrero 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories are about a car accident victim's organ donotions, women's genetic predisposition for breast cancer, a child's premature death and a kidney transplant recipient. 

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The Evolving Family Doctor Statesman Journal Saerom Yoo 2013 Business (small)

This story reports on family doctors who were either considering or have changed the way they practice due to economical and governmental changes that have made it difficult for small, private practices to thrive. Reporting showed that financial security was a key motivation for doctors opting to sell their practices to larger organizations, and while these buyers weren't actively seeking to acquire practices, they were doing so help retain physicians in the community.

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Employers Play Obamacare Blame Game CNNMoney Tami Luhby 2013 Business (large)

This story looked at how a growing number of employers are blaming the Affordable Care Act for their having to make changes to their work-based benefits. The story served as a wake up call to employees that they too are being affected by health reform.

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The Device Life Star Tribune James Walsh 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune's research showed that implanted medical device use among a younger population is exploding at a rate much faster than the traditional Medicare crowd that historically has received the majority of these devices. Younger patients now comprise the fastest-growing market for many medical devices. This is especially true in the areas of chronic pain management, movement disorders and other forms of neuromodulation. But it is also true with artificial hips and knees and, to a lesser extent, pacemakers and defibrillators. Younger patients are the dramatic growth market in the U.S. for the medical technology industry. While this expanding market provides a boon for med tech, it also creates new challenges and raises new questions. This story reports.

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Maria G. Ortiz-Briones's 2013 Body of Work Vida en el Valle Maria G. Ortiz-Briones 2013 Beat Reporting

This beat covered health issues from Sacramento to Kern counties and focused specifically on health issues affecting the Latino community -- from the ACA to diabetes to health care to obesity.

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Are Health Insurance Companies Ranking Themselves On Cover Oregon? Oregon Public Broadcasting Kristian Foden-Vencil 2013 Health Policy (large)

Oregon's new health insurance exchange has a star ranking for it's insurers. But the insurers are playing a part in setting up that ranking. This story reports.

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The course of their lives Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Mark Johnson 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)


Place: Third Place

This feature story follows a group of six first-year students at the Medical College of Wisconsin through the most pivotal course in their quest to become doctors: Gross anatomy. The story takes readers into a world that few will ever know, one where youthful caffeine-chugging doctors-to-be are forced to rethink their goals and ambitions, their views of medicine and the role of doctors, of life and death and what follows. “The Course of Their Lives” ties together the mystery facing the medical students of Table 1 as they struggle to determine what killed the woman whose body they are working on, and story of 80-year-old Geraldine “Nana” Fotsch and how she came to the decision to one day donate her body to be examined by a similar group of students.

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Is Surgery Ready for Price Transparency Outpatient Surgery Magazine Jim Burger 2013 Business (small)

Keith Smith, MD, co-founder of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, explains how the center came to post all of its prices online, and voices some very strong opinions about what's wrong with health care in the United States.

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"Funny Money" Makes Comparing Hospital Costs Complex Oregon Public Broadcasting Kristian Foden-Vencil 2013 Health Policy (large)

An administrator explains why the cost for a hip replacement at his hospital is twice as much as in another hospital just 35 miles away.

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The Gift of Life The Morning Call Milton Carrero 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This story is about two families united by organ donation. Ethan Moyer was killed in a car accident. An organ donor, he saved the life of seven people, including a baby girl who received a portion of his liver. Both families gathered to celebrate the wedding of Ethan's sister. The baby girl was the flower girl at the wedding. This story illustrated the importance of organ donation. 

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"Good Behavior" More Than A Game To Health Care Plan Oregon Public Broadcasting Kristian Foden-Vencil 2013 Public Health (large)

A Coordinated Care Organization pays for kids to play 'The Good Behavior Game,' in the hope it'll stop them from smoking and taking drugs when they're older -- and thus save the CCO millions.

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Lauren's Legacy The Morning Call Milton Carrero 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This story is a woman's daughter who died prematurely from complications associated with an injury at birth. There were very few resources available in the area at the time to help the child. Her mother made it her mission to change circumstances for future children.

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Obamacare Myths FactCheck.org Lori Robertson 2013 Health Policy (large)

False claims about the Affordable Care Act have been circulating for years – since before the legislation was officially signed into law. This article highlighted the most egregious, and most popular, claims, giving readers a guide to the top myths. Most of the falsehoods centered on three topics: jobs, premium costs and medical care.

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Eugene CCO To Pay Pregnant Women To Stop Smoking Oregon Public Broadcasting Kristian Foden-Vencil 2013 Public Health (large)

A Coordinated Care Organization is trying to improve health care outcomes and cut costs by simply giving pregnant women money to stop smoking.

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Tami Luhby's 2013 Body of Work CNNMoney Tami Luhby 2013 Beat Reporting

This beat covers the Affordable Care Act, including the window shopping tool on healthcare.gov, ACA penalties, and out-of-pocket costs.

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Is Surgery Ready for Price Transparency Outpatient Surgery Magazine Jim Burger 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Keith Smith, MD, co-founder of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, explains how the center came to post all of its prices online, and voices some very strong opinions about what's wrong with health care in the United States.

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You Don't Always Get What You Pay For Modern Healthcare Joe Carlson 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This cover story involved a three-month original investigation that compared actual average costs (not charges) and outcomes for a single common cardiovascular procedure at two competing hospitals in a dozen randomly chosen markets. In 7 of 12 cities, the hospital with the lower average costs also had lower readmission rates, which is a good measure of hospital quality. Through anecdotes and original data analysis, the story was able to show that the growing use of data on costs and outcomes will "put pressure on hospital to become more cost-efficient and improve their outcomes" or "payers and patients may take their business elsewhere."

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Quality Paradox: Medicare Rewards Not Always Linked to Better Outcomes Modern Healthcare Melanie Evans, Maureen McKinney 2013 Health Policy (large)

In the fourth quarter of 2012, CMS released the penalties assessed hospitals with excessive 30-day readmission rates and its penalties and rewards for the so-called value-based purchasing program, which reassigned up to 1% of hospital Medicare revenue based on a panel of quality indicators and patient satisfaction. This original statistical analysis comparing the two data sets showed there was only a weak correlation between the outcomes of two programs, and that "Medicare's rewards for process and patient satisfaction are not always linked to better outcomes."

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Beth Kutscher's 2013 Body of Work Modern Healthcare Beth Kutscher 2013 Beat Reporting

These stories were reported for the finance beat at Modern Healthcare. The reporter's coverage of routine financial events (earnings, mergers & acquisitions, etc.) has uncovered major trends within the healthcare industry. Six stories from this beat made the cover this year.

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Why We Can't Trust Clinical Guidelines Freelance / The New Republic Jeanne Lenzer 2013 Investigative (large)

Clinical guidelines, often sponsored by prestigious professional organizations, drive vast swaths of medical care, from the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes, to screening for prostate and breast cancer. When guidelines are written by individuals and sponsored by organizations with financial conflicts of interest, harms to public health can be serious and widespread. The article addresses the question: Why do processes intended to prevent or reduce bias fail?

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Ellenbogen Speaks on Head Injuries in Youth, NFL, Military Rhode Island Medical Journal Mary Korr 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, co-chair of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, spoke to a gathering at Brown University graduation, many of whom were medical students and physicians, on traumatic brain injury and what educational measures can be down locally to reduce its occurrence. He also spoke of his journey from Brown Medical School to the NFL and his current practice with personal observations.

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Martin Reflects on Approaches, Trends in Hospice/Palliative Care Rhode Island Medical Journal Mary Korr 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This story is a Q&A with the medical director of Home and Hospice Care of RI, spotlighting the difficulties physicians encounter in discussing palliative care/hospice with patients, as well as an overview of trends in this growing subspecialty.

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Generations in the Workforce Series Freelance / Hospitals and Health Networks magazine Laura Putre 2013 Business (large)

Hospitals and Health Networks magazine's "Generations in the Workplace" series focuses on the challenges of four generations of employees working side by side in the hospital. Over the course of 2013, reporters examined generational differences in expectations and work habits, and what it takes to maintain a spirit of good will and cooperation. The story also investigated how hospital and health system leaders can manage this diverse workforce all the while improving patient care.

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The No-Fall Zone Freelance / Hospitals and Health Networks magazine Lola Butcher 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Patient safety is a critical issue inside the hospital’s four walls. A medical error or accident not only harms the patient, but adds costs to the entire care delivery system. This feature investigated an age-old problem of patient falls. Not every fall can be prevented, but hospitals are applying multifaceted protocols to prevent the ones that can.

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Venture philanthropy: A new driver for research Proto Lauren Arcuri Ware 2013 Business (small)


Place: Second Place

Nonprofit foundations for diseases are funding for-profit companies to research treatments and potential cures for their disorders, a trend called "venture philanthropy." Not only are they funding research, they are doing so with a businesslike focus on meeting goals and milestones and, in some cases, with revenue from the resulting drugs being funneled to the foundation for further research. Can these nonprofits be transparent enough to reassure stakeholders that they are not operating on the same capitalist model as pharmaceutical and biotech companies? For instance, the biggest success from venture philanthropy so far is Kalydeco, a new drug that treats 4 percent of cystic fibrosis sufferers with what has been described as a functional cure, developed with funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The cost of the drug is high and there are questions about how ethical it is for the CFF to be receiving royalties from its sale.

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The KPC Killer Freelance / Bethesda Magazine Bara L. Vaida 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This story is one of the first in-depth looks at a Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) outbreak at NIH's hospital in Bethesda during 2011. Eighteen patients were infected by this antibiotic resistant bacteria and twelve died. This is the story of two NIH staff, an epidemiologist and a genome investigator as they tracked the path of the infection through patients. What they learned was chilling. The bacteria could spread through patients that weren't showing symptoms, making it hard to stop, even as the hospital tried everything that is known to stop an epidemic. The story highlights how close we are to the age where antibiotics no longer work and how imperative it is that public health officials do something about it. It also demonstrates that pharmaceutical companies too need to keep investing in new antibiotics for the greater public good.

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Brown Kenya Medical Exchange Program Rhode Island Medical Journal Charles Sherman, Jane Carter, MD 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This two-part series chronicles the work of Rhode Island physicians, medical students and individuals who created and/or volunteer in the Brown University Kenya Medical Exchange Program, setting up hospital programs in Africa and mentoring trainees.

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Putting a Stop to OA Arthritis Today Dorothy Foltz-Gray, Andrea Kane 2013 Public Health (large)

More than 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis. This story explored a new way of thinking about osteoarthritis, not just as the typical wear and tear on joints, but delved deeper into the latest research of what's occurring inside the joint at the molecular level and how those results can be applied to practical measures used to put a stop to this debilitating disease.

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On a Mission Baltimore Business Journal Sarah Gantz 2013 Business (small)

Bon Secours Hospital, a community hospital in West Baltimore, is spending millions to help revive one of the city's poorest and sickest communities, while struggling to stay afloat itself.

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The Ultimate End-of-Life Plan Freelance / Wall Street Journal Katy Butler 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

In this personal essay, writer Katy Butler weaves together an account of her elderly mother's refusal of open-heart surgery at the age of 84 with "big picture" insights and statistics about medical over-treatment at the end of life. Although many of the facts are drawn from Butler's book "Knocking on Heaven's Door," the majority of the writing and some of the reporting in this piece is original.

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Medical Maijuana: Rx or Risk? The Arthritis Foundation Camille Noe Pagan, Andrea Kane 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Spurred from the wake of the science-based debate "Joints for Joints" at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, the story set out to explore, compare and contrast the rewards and risks of medical marijuana as a treatment for arthritis, as well as it routes to relief, history of use, legal ramifications and first-hand patient accounts.

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Sequestration Budget Cuts Hit St. Louis Scientists St. Louis Public Radio & The Beacon Veronique LaCapra 2013 Business (large)

This story explored the impacts of federal sequestration budget cuts on university-based science research in St. Louis, focusing mostly on health research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Investigations found that the budget cuts hit young researchers the hardest -- causing some to even reconsider their career paths.

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Sarah Jane Tribble's 2013 Body of Work Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Sarah Jane Tribble 2013 Beat Reporting

Sarah Jane Tribble's work examines health care issues in the community, including football inuries among high school athletes, ACA treatment of football injuries, back injuries caused by children's backpacks, and hospital patient satisfaction.

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Game Changers Arthritis Today Andrea Kane, Dorothy Foltz-Gray 2013 Health Policy (large)

This story focused on how bright ideas in research can ultimately become breakthrough treatments for arthritis, and conversely why ideas often don't become medicine, and why they are often delayed. The story examines the process of how research concepts develop into drugs – from basic research and preclinical testing to FDA approval and clinical practice.

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Missouri Governor Halts Execution Using Controversial Drug - Why The Change Of Plans? St. Louis Public Radio & The Beacon Veronique LaCapra, Chris McDaniel 2013 Investigative (large)

In October, Missouri planned to use propofol, a widely-used medical anesthetic, to execute its first prisoner since 2011. Most of the U.S.'s supply comes from Europe, which is opposed to the death penalty and was considering limiting exports if Missouri went through with its plans. Since the drug's U.S. manufacturer also doesn't want it being used in executions, this story investigated and found that the state had obtained the drug from an unauthorized distributor. On the day the story aired, Missouri's governor Jay Nixon postponed the execution, ordering the Department of Corrections to find a new execution drug.

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Hard Labor Baltimore Business Journal Sarah Gantz 2013 Health Policy (small)

A string of high verdicts in birth injury malpractice cases in Baltimore has pushed up the cost of malpractice insurance for obstetricians. Doctors and hospitals are concerned that the rising costs associated with OB/GYN departments will cause some to reduce or stop their services — leaving even more risk and cost for those who are left.

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Deadliest Catch: Elusive Evolving Flu Difficult to Predict Healthcare Journal of New Orleans Claudia S. Copeland 2013 Public Health (small)

This story explores the origins of flu in Louisiana and the evolving nature of this deadly virus.

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Insider Trading in Neurology Case Spotlights Legal Constraint in Working With Industry Neurology Today Olga Ruskovets STAFF, Fay Ellis, Kim Jansen 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This article uses an insider trading case involving a neurologist to highlight the legal constraints and ethical boundaries that emerge in academic-industry collaborations and investors activity.

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When the Smoke Clears Georgia State University Magazine Sonya Collins 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters


Place: Third Place

The story explores whether e-cigarettes are a silver bullet for people who want to quit smoking or the latest ploy by Big Tobacco to get more people addicted to nicotine, including kids - how they are characterized will determine how they are regulated and marketed. It took 50 years to find out that cigarettes cause cancer, but we don't have 50 years to find out what the long-term effects of e-cigarettes will be.

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Pay Cuts for Electrodiagnostic Testing Could Propel Neurology Work Force Crisis Neurology Today Orly Avitzur, Fay Ellis, Kim Jansen 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This is one of a continuing series of stories, which report on the potentially devastating impact of proposed reimbursement cuts for procedures that neurologists commonly use in practice. The story finds that the proposed cuts could threatened the viability of neurologists in private practice and similarly undermine the viability of academic neurology departments.

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Donald G. McNeil Jr.'s 2013 Body of Work The New York Times Donald McNeil 2013 Beat Reporting


Place: Third Place

The stories illustrate four aspects of the beat:

  • How the U.S. AIDS epidemic has become more and more concentrated in gay black and Hispanic men in their teens and 20s.

  • An Argentine auto mechanic who invented a simple, safe device to help mothers in obstructed labor give birth.

  • A little-known tradition at Stanford in which thousands of students get together at midnight under the first full moon and kiss — a custom that raises health considerations the university takes seriously.

  • Pakistan’s battle against polio in the wake of the murders of numerous vaccinators by the Taliban.

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New Proposed Cuts in EEG Reimbursement Imperil Epilepsy Care Neurology Today Orly Avitzur, Fay Ellis, Kim Jansen 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

This is one story in a series that discusses the impact that proposed Medicare reimbursement cuts for a common neurology procedure -- electroencephalography (EEG) -- could have on the bottom line of neurologists in practice and academic practices. This and other stories in this series raised awareness among members of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), engaging them in an advocacy campaign to protest these cuts. As a result of the advocacy, the AAN was given the opportunity to present its case for ameliorating the proposed cuts to a Medicare advisory panel. Cuts for these procedures were eliminated or eased in the 2014 physician fee schedule (from the agency) released at the end of November (2013).

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Past, Present & Future of Hemophilia Research HemAware and the National Hemophilia Foundation Sarah Aldridge, Heather Boerner, January Payne 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

Research into treatments and cures for hemophilia takes place in laboratories all over the country. So it’s no wonder that funding for it comes from a variety of sectors. Bleeding disorders groups, families, foundations and even pharmaceutical companies have all rallied to support research. This feature shared the stories of four groups supporting research critical to improving the lives of people with hemophilia. 

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The Making of an Obamacare Management Failure POLITICO Carrie Budoff Brown 2013 Health Policy (large)

This article tells the story of why the president and his top White House advisers missed warnings about problems with HealthCare.gov. before the Oct. 1 launch.

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Ohio Bans Hospital Contracts With Abortion Clinics Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Sarah Jane Tribble 2013 Health Policy (large)

Ohio's recent attempt to curb abortions had its first casualty in summer 2013. An abortion clinic in Toledo blames the new law for its closure in June 2013. At the time of reporting, the only other clinic in the Northwest Ohio city was slated to close by the end of the month.

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Suicide Rate Climbs by 30 Percent in Kansas The Wichita Eagle Kelsey Ryan 2013 Public Health (small)

More than 500 Kansans killed themselves in 2012 – a 30 percent increase in suicides from 2011, according to data released by the state. The Wichita Eagle spoke to some of the families and friends of the deceased, as well as experts about the demographics behind the suicides and why they might be increasing.

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Politics At Play As Ohio's Health Exchange Nears Enrollment Date Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Sarah Jane Tribble 2013 Health Policy (large)

As fall begins, the roll out of the Affordable Care Act has entered a new season. For the law to succeed, it is critical that millions sign up for health insurance through statewide exchanges. But confusion about the law is widespread, and volunteers with Enroll America have hit the streets to help people understand how the new system works. ideastream health reporter Sarah Jane Tribble reports the effort isn't just educational --- it's political too.

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A 'Hole in the Community': Infant Mortality in Kansas Wichita Eagle Kelsey Ryan 2013 Public Health (small)

Infant deaths in Kansas are above the national average. But what's perhaps the most egregious is that the black infant death rate is three times that of whites. This piece focused specifically on the issue of disparity in the black community and another looked at rural v. urban rates, which found that while urban areas of the state have higher numbers of infant deaths, rural areas have greater rates. Rural areas also have greater rates of prenatal smoking and lack of access to prenatal care.

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Universal Access to Virtual Colonoscopy May Be on the Horizon Medscape from WebMD Yael Waknine 2013 Health Policy (large)

CT colonography (CTC) was approved by the FDA in 2009 as a method of screening for colorectal cancer, and studies have shown it to be similarly effective to colonoscopy without the associated high cost and need for sedation. Although the convenience of an outpatient procedure could help raise flagging CRC screening rates and potentially save lives, access to the procedure has been stymied by a turf war between radiologists and gastroenterologists and thus far the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have denied reimbursement.

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Markian Hawryluk's 2013 Body of Work Bend Bulletin Markian Hawryluk 2013 Beat Reporting

The four stories are part of Markian Hawryluk's health beat reporting in 2013. The first was an investigation into the decision by a small physician's clinic to ban pharmaceutical drug reps. It was followed by a story about a pharmaceutical company that gained additional years of brand name protection by putting a capsule around the same pill they'd been selling for years. The third story chronicles the story of an infant with baby botulism, saved by a physician's recollection of a case 20 years earlier, and the great lengths taken by a health department to make the antitoxin available. The final story examines the validity of a commonly used concussion baseline testing program.

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When a Love For Stuff Turns Into an Obsession Redding Record Searchlight Claudia Marie Mosby 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This package was one in a year-long project (non-serialized) exploring different mental disorders, brain science and stigma. The general goal was twofold: first, to provide a humanizing "360-degree perspective" of hoarding disorder (HD) by profiling an individual, his spouse and a friend/former housemate who could personalize the HD journey and secondly, to educate readers by delving into the psycho-social and medical roots of the disorder, the types of attachment that present with it and the available treatment options. 

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Hunter Health Clinic Faces Financial Difficulties, Layoffs Wichita Eagle Kelsey Ryan 2013 Investigative (small)

Hunter Health Clinic, one of three federally qualified health centers in Wichita, Kan., had a highly paid CEO and is facing financial troubles. Requests for financial documents after clinic leadership changed remained unanswered. Hunter Health Clinic receives the majority of its funding from the federal government. The Wichita Eagle put in a records request with Wichita State University for clinic-related emails to find out more about the financial troubles at the clinic (the former and current chair of the clinic worked at the university, so their emails can be open to the public) and in response, the Eagle was sued by the clinic. At the time of this submission, the paper was still waiting for a ruling that could set new precedent for open records law in Kansas.

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Kids Gain Weight During the Summer Months Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Sarah Jane Tribble 2013 Public Health (large)

A study published in the July 2013 issue of Journal for School Health debunks the theory that schools are failing to help kids fight fat. Instead, the report reveals that kids gain the most weight during the summer months. This story explains.

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An ER Designed for Psych Patients Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Anne Glausser 2013 Public Health (large)

In this story, ideastream’s Anne Glausser visited a facility equipped to intervene quickly for those suffering psychiatric trauma – the psych ER.

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Spinouts Blossom In Shadow Of Northeast Ohio's Healthcare Giants Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Brian Christopher Bull 2013 Business (large)

The word "spinout" has long been associated with road hazards – you spin out in a snowstorm, or if you cut a corner too tight on wet pavement. And if you’re lucky, you come out whole. But mention “spinout” to a technology buff in healthcare-rich Northeast Ohio, and he – or she – might be thinking more along the lines of investment… and payoff. ideastream’s Brian Bull has more.

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Could More Good Samaritan Laws Slow the Opioid Overdose "Epidemic"? Healthline Brian Krans 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

Fourteen states have Good Samaritan laws giving limited immunity to drug users who call 911 during an overdose, and one Wisconsin lawmaker wants his state to be the next. This story reports.

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Anti-Vaccination Movement Causes a Deadly Year in the U.S. Healthline Brian Krans 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

From Taliban fighters to California soccer moms, those who choose not to vaccinate their children against preventable diseases are causing a public health crisis. This story reports.

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Affordable Care Act...of Horror? Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Brian Christopher Bull 2013 Business (large)

A witch, Darth Vader, and the Blues Brothers walk into a bar….and that’s no joke. About 40 health insurance brokers and agency heads -- many dressed in costume – recently turned out for a Halloween-themed event at a Cleveland brewery to share their fears over the Affordable Care Act. Ideastream’s Brian Bull attended the event, and produced this report.

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Express Scripts Drops Coverage of Some High-Cost Drugs Healthline Heather Kathryn Ross 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

This story reports on mail-order pharmacies and hospitals that attempt to rein in sky-high drug costs.

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Maternity's Thin Line Johns Hopiskins Public Health magazine Cathy Shufro 2013 Public Health (small)

Women giving birth in Ghana have a risk of dying 22 times that of a woman in a developed country. Tracking why women nearly died in childbirth in Ghana provides clues to what went wrong when women did die. It also suggests what should be done to care for women who came close to death.

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Don't Feel Like Working Out? Your Dog Might Ideastream (WCPN 90.3 FM) Anne Glausser 2013 Consumer/Feature (large)

The health effects of extra weight can be serious and include diabetes and heart disease, but motivating yourself to go to the gym or put on that workout tape can be tough. ideastream’s Anne Glausser brings us the story of one Northeast Ohio woman who thinks she’s found a way to help people stick to their workout plan. And it involves a furry companion.

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Bipolar Disorder Patients Spend Years Looking for Correct Diagnosis Redding Record Searchlight Claudia Marie Mosby 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This package was part of a year-long project (non-serialized) exploring different mental disorders, brain science and stigma. The general goal was twofold: first, to humanize the bipolar disorder by profiling individuals who could personalize the experience of the illness without sensationalism and secondly, to educate readers by delving into the medical roots of bipolar disorder, its symptoms, associated stigma and available treatment options.

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Nevada buses hundreds of mentally-ill patients across country The Sacramento Bee Phillip Reese and Cynthia Hubert 2013 Investigative (large)


Place: Third Place

Since July 2008, Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has transported more than 1,500 patients to other cities via Greyhound bus, sending at least one person to every state in the continental United States, according to a Bee review of bus receipts kept by Nevada's mental health division.

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Those With Autism Navigate a Foreign World Redding Record Searchlight Claudia Marie Mosby 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

This package was part of a year-long project (non-serialized) exploring different neuro-developmental brain disorders, the related science and associated stigma. The general goal was twofold: first, to humanize autism by profiling individuals who could personalize the experience of the having autism without sensationalism and illustrate that great accomplishment is possible notwithstanding brain differences. Secondly, to educate readers by delving into the medical roots of autism, its symptoms, stigma and available treatment options.

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Contemporary Topics in Health Care: Crowdsourcing PT in Motion Donald Edward Tepper 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

Crowdsourcing currently is in vogue in technology circles but actually has a long and interesting history. This article briefly traces the history of crowdsourcing over the centuries before delving into some contemporary applications. The article identifies a number of health care-specific applications of crowdsourcing, including some that have been used in physical therapy. It also suggests ways that crowdsourcing may be used in health care in the future.

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Contemporary Topics in Health Care: Crowdsourcing PT in Motion Donald Edward Tepper 2013 Consumer/Feature (small)

Crowdsourcing currently is in vogue in technology circles but actually has a long and interesting history. This article briefly traces the history of crowdsourcing over the centuries before delving into some contemporary applications. The article identifies a number of health care-specific applications of crowdsourcing, including some that have been used in physical therapy. It also suggests ways that crowdsourcing may be used in health care in the future.

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Surviving and Thriving in an Era of Mergers and Consolidations PT in Motion Chris Hayhurst, Donald E. Tepper 2013 Business (small)

This story looks at a growing business trend in health care that is affecting physical therapists: merger and consolidation activity. The article provides readers with a “toolkit” to cope with mergers and consolidations--both on an individual and on a business level--as applicable.

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Lessons from the Antarctic PT in Motion Donald Edward Tepper 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

What is life like for a physical therapist who spent 2 seasons as the lone PT at the main U.S. station in Antarctica? And what lessons can other physical therapists learn from that experience? This story reports.

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These Stamps Tell Your Story PT in Motion Donald Edward Tepper 2013 Trade Publications/Newsletters

The U.S. Postal Services has a long history of issuing commemorative stamps to honor people, causes, scientific advances, and programs. Although USPS has not singled out the profession of physical therapy (unlike the profession of medicine), many stamps relate directly to the mission and activities of physical therapy. This article identified 14 stamps—issued between 1940 and 2005—that dealt in some way with physical therapy or activities in which physical therapists are involved. The purpose of the article was to give readers (primarily physical therapists) a “pat on the back” and additional recognition for the profession's history.

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