To understand the scope of The Dallas Morning News‘ “First, Do No Harm” series of investigations into publicly funded hospitals, take a look at the landing page. Spend a few minutes reading headlines (“Parkland CEO: ‘I did 17 amputations’ before getting medical degree” is my personal favorite), checking dates and clicking through to stories and you start to see the bigger picture. On its own, that page tells the tale of how reporters grabbed hold of a story and just wouldn’t let go.
That page ties together no fewer than 25 stories, 16 blog posts, 15 separate primary documents and three videos with a simple introductory paragraph:
UT Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital are known for their contributions to medical research and public health. But those accomplishments have come at a price. The Dallas Morning News investigates allegations of billing fraud, lax resident supervision, preferential medical treatment and patient harm at the publicly funded institutions.
Some of the material dates back to the paper’s 2007 investigation of a hospital giving special treatment to VIPs, but the vast majority of the work was done in 2010.
Of special interest to journalists: Maud Beelman, the deputy managing editor at The Dallas Morning News who leads a team of investigative and special projects reporters, wrote about the project for Nieman Watchdog. She details some of the struggles they faced to do the project, including getting public records, efforts to derail the investigation and the backlash from the hospitals.