Author Archives: Mary Chris Jaklevic

Avatar photo

About Mary Chris Jaklevic

Mary Chris Jaklevic is AHCJ's topic leader for patient safety. She has been a contributor to, a project that aimed to improve health care journalism by critiquing the accuracy and balance of media messages about medical interventions, and was an AHCJ board member from 2005 to 2009.

A primer for covering the nursing and hospital battle over mandatory minimum staffing ratios


Photo by Laura James via Pexels

Nurses are pushing to limit the number of patients that can be assigned to a single person — a move that advocates say will make care safer and improve working conditions. 

The American Nurses Association, which officially threw its support behind minimum nurse-to-patient ratio mandates in 2022, tracked nurse staffing bills in 21 states this year, many involving ratios. Federal ratio legislation was also introduced.

Continue reading

In her new book, physician-journalist
reframes what’s wrong with U.S. health care

Ilana Yurkiewicz, M.D.

Ilana Yurkiewicz, M.D.

It’s a cliché to say that American health care is broken. Ilana Yurkiewicz, M.D., a Stanford University oncologist and internal medicine physician, says journalists should be more specific. The central problem, she argues, is that health care is fragmented.

“Fragmented” is the title of a new book in which Yurkiewicz, who’s written about medicine for such publications as Undark and Hematology News, describes barriers that prevent physicians from seeing a patient’s full medical narrative. 

Health systems can’t easily share records. Electronic health records bury information. Payment systems de-prioritize follow-up. Grueling 28-hour shifts for medical residents discourage accountability. Primary care is underfunded. Sub-specialization is emphasized at the expense of holistic care.

Continue reading

Quality rankings emerge for outpatient surgery

Ben Harder, Missy Danforth, and Thomas Tsai

From left to right: Ben Harder of U.S. News & World Report; Missy Danforth of Leapfrog; and Thomas Tsai, M.D., M.P.H., of Harvard Medical School

For decades, same-day procedures such as joint replacements and colonoscopies have outnumbered inpatient surgeries, yet only recently have consumers had data on the quality and safety of facilities that do them.

Continue reading

‘Medical errors are the third leading cause of death’
and other statistics you should question

News headlines about diagnostic errors

Screenshots of news headlines captured July 27, 2023. Graphic by Kevin Ridder

Too often, we journalists set aside our critical reasoning skills when it comes to alarming statistics about patient safety. 

Continue reading

Why you should be writing about diagnostic errors

Hardeep Singh, M.D., M.P.H.

Hardeep Singh, M.D., M.P.H.

In 2015, major U.S. news organizations flocked to cover a seminal report by the Institute of Medicine that described the widespread harms from missed and delayed diagnoses. 

But since that burst of attention, health care providers have done little to address the problem, according to leading researchers in the field who spoke at a conference in the Netherlands this month. 

“I think every country is struggling with this,” Laura Zwaan, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Institute of Medical Education Research at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, said in an interview.   

Continue reading