Author Archives: Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Expert and author traces history of patient safety movement, suggests stories

Yes, there’s a lot going on these days.

Impeachment.

Potential war.

The 2020 election.

(Forget for a minute the cynic’s view that all three things might actually be the same.)

We’re forgetting or perhaps just distracted from drawing our readers’ attention to a preventable problem that kills some 200,000 people a year. Continue reading

Investigation reveals failings in adoption of electronic health records

Over the past decade, federal spending of $36 billion to stimulate health providers’ conversion of patient medical records from piles of paper to electronic format was supposed to make care safer and lives easier. It would illuminate epidemiological trends that could stop spread of disease or point to a preventable culprit.

It might even make diagnosis of patient symptoms faster and more accurate. And patients would have easier access to their medical records.

To make sure it did all that, stakeholders were supposed to build a national databank and safety center that would track near misses, injuries and deaths caused by glitches in the system — for example medication or patient record errors — many of which have driven doctors and health systems nearly crazy over the years.

Continue reading

Military’s heat-related illnesses, deaths demonstrate link between climate change, health reporting

Climate change and health care are two separate beats, right? Usually that’s the case.

Environmental reporters worry about endangered species and greenhouse gases. Health reporters worry about hospital and physician quality and safety and reducing costs of care.

But the two are increasingly intertwined, as my former San Diego Union-Tribune colleague and Pulitzer Prize winner David Hasemyer points out. Continue reading

Reporter discusses search for ‘vent farm’ patient’s identity

Joanne Faryon

Joanne Faryon

It’s not a good idea to try to do anything else while listening to Joanne Faryon’s podcast about “Sixty-Six Garage,” a man who went unidentified in a San Diego “vent farm,” aka skilled nursing facility, for 15 years. Her gripping oral recount of how she quit her job in 2015 and spent her own money and resources to find out who he was and how he ended up this way, attached to ventilators and unable to speak or move, is chilling.

The story of “Garage” represents also another angle on the story of immigration, and how the vehicle accident just north of the California/Mexico border resulted, possibly, because he was being chased by a border agent’s helicopter. Continue reading

New rule allows Medicare reimbursement to ambulatory surgery centers for knee replacements, stents

Knee replacement surgeries and stenting procedures will now be reimbursed in free-standing ambulatory surgery centers for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries as of Jan. 1 under a new rule finalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday.

The controversial policy shift will mean hundreds, if not tens of thousands, of older patients will now have these complex procedures in a facility not attached to a hospital, and will go home the same day. Continue reading

Veteran reporter offers tips to keep yourself safe covering wildfires

Photo: Lance Cheung/USDA via Flickr

So you’re working away — perhaps at home — on a story about vaping or high prescription costs or results from a new clinical trial, not paying much attention to the news. All of a sudden your editor calls to tell you that winds have stoked a grass fire that’s now raging and headed your way. Your editor wants you to jump on it. All the other reporters are out covering other blazes or emergencies.

But you’re a health reporter, not a fire reporter! What do you know about covering this stuff? And oh, by the way, an hour later, you learn you’re going to have to evacuate your family and precious belongings from your own home as well. Continue reading