Author Archives: Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is 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.

Federal information blocking rule: What health care journalists need to know

Photo by Juhan Sonin via Flickr.

With so much focus — and rightly so — on COVID-19, it’s understandable that even the best health care journalists have overlooked a critically important patient safety story, one that few I know had even heard about.

On April 5, 2021, the federal Information Blocking rule went into effect, allowing basically anyone who provides health care, “defined as “actors,” to release electronic health records in 16 categories such as summary visit notes, lab and pathology reports, and imaging studies to the patient’s health portal as soon as they are available electronically. According to the rule, that means even before the doctor has had a chance to review them, and before the provider has had a chance to explain or discuss what’s in those documents with the patient. Talk about a huge culture shift. Continue reading

Latest medical conference to go virtual will target improving diagnosis, reducing disparities

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Photo: medipics1066 via Flickr

One of the nation’s most interesting, patient- and media-friendly medical organizations next week will focus on a topic more relevant than ever during a pandemic. The annual meeting of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), which starts Monday as a virtual event, will focus on “Transforming Education and Practice to Improve Diagnosis.” Continue reading

In writing about whether schools will open for in-person classes, check case counts in kids

Photo: BES Photos via Flickr

As you write about the continuing back and forth over the how and when — and if — it will be safe to reopen schools for on-site classes next month, journalists might ask these questions:

  • What do case counts in children and teens look like in your area?
  • Are they growing every day?
  • If so, how fast?
  • Are the children symptomatic?
  • And are their teachers, administrators, family members and friends getting sick?

In California, for example, case counts among those 17 and younger have been climbing, from 1.3% of the state’s case counts on April 7 (222) to 3.4% on May 7 (2,181) to 8.3% as of Saturday (July 11), (26,652). Continue reading

Problems found in initial federal data on COVID-19 in nursing homes

Photo: The National Guard via Flickr

When Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, announced June 4 that she and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unveiling COVID-19 data for all the nation’s nursing homes that get federal payment, I thought, “Wow!”

These days, how states are reporting their nursing home COVID cases is varied and random. So this new “unprecedented” federal dataset, “constitutes the backbone of a national COVID-19 virus surveillance system,” Verma said. Continue reading

Local officials on watch for unauthorized COVID-19 test sites

Cars lined up Wednesday afternoon at the COVID Clinic testing site near Cardiff-by-the-Sea, before it was shuttered by San Diego County health officials.

Photo: Cheryl ClarkCars lined up Wednesday afternoon at the COVID Clinic testing site before it was shuttered by San Diego County health officials.

Cities, counties and states around the country are probably on heightened alert for unauthorized pop-up COVID-19 testing operations after San Diego County took steps to shut down one such clinic Wednesday, lest a bogus test give someone a false result and jeopardize public health.

For $75, COVID Clinic invited applicants to sign up for COVID-19 IgM and IgG serology antibody, or “finger poke” tests, with partial results in 15 minutes. Continue reading