Staffing levels, not just hotspots, can predict nursing home COVID deaths, study says

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Zeev Barkan via Flickr

Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in a Seattle-area nursing home in February, at least 55,000 deaths, more than 42% of the U.S. total, have been linked to nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities as of July 7, according to a national database compiled by The New York Times.

Now a new academic study supports what many already suspected: residents of long-term care facilities with lower nurse staffing levels, poorer quality scores, and higher concentrations of disadvantaged residents suffer from higher rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Continue reading

Resources for responsibly reporting on supplements during the pandemic

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Special via Flickr

One of the biggest challenges of covering the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has been the proliferation of inaccurate information. That includes misinformation, propaganda, disinformation, conspiracy theories and, most pernicious of all, fake cures and treatments.

Some of the misinformation about substances that supposedly can treat COVID-19 is downright harmful, such as bleach or colloidal silver. The problem is so bad that the U.S Food and Drug Administration began issuing warning letters to multiple companies in early March to stop selling products that they said were fraudulently claiming could be used against coronavirus infections. Continue reading

Study shows common acid suppressants may increase dementia risk

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Dan Lingard via Flickr

Millions of people around the world take acid suppressants called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for conditions like heartburn, gastritis and stomach ulcers. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now report that long-term use of these drugs could increase the risk of developing dementia. Continue reading

Membership selects new board members for 2020-21

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and served for nearly 20 years in daily journalism.

Joyce Frieden, Washington editor at MedPage Today, and Keren Landman, M.D., a freelance journalist based in Atlanta, join four incumbents in being seated on the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2020-21 board of directors.

Incumbents starting a new term include Carrie Feibel, senior editor of the Science Desk at NPR; Tony Leys, health care reporter at the Des Moines Register; Ivan Oransky, M.D., vice president of editorial for Medscape; and Sabriya Rice, Knight chair in health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia.

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How to be more effective in communicating risk to readers

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Sasha You via Flickr

One of the most challenging aspects about reporting on medical research is the need to convey risk in a meaningful way to readers. Human brains are not wired to understand risk in the way we need to understand it in the 21st century. Our brains evolved to assess risks for very different environments and threats than those we face today ― particularly in a time of pandemic. Continue reading

Journalist offers advice on breaking news in the time of COVID-19

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: ChiralJon via FlickrRendering of hydroxychloroquine molecular structure.

The National Institutes of Health last month halted a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine for use in treating COVID-19 patients. The NIH ended the trial because the antimalarial drug, while safe, was proven to have no benefit to hospitalized patients.

The decision came just three months after President Trump declared the drug a “game-changer” and arranged for the U.S. to purchase 29 million doses to be “immediately available” to the public for treating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Continue reading