Category Archives: Patient safety

Health Journalism 2019 sets attendance record

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

Drawn by an influential lineup of speakers and panels – plus an intriguing offering of field trips – more than 800 conference-goers helped make AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore a record-setter in attendance.

In AHCJ’s 20 years of annual conferences, the increase in attendance has mirrored the public’s level of interest in health news and need for clear, accurate health care reporting. Today, health-care pocketbook issues, partisan politics and worrisome matters such as the re-emergence of measles and stubborn drug dependence epidemics are seen as topics likely to be front and center in upcoming elections.

From May 2 to May 5, health journalists attended more than 60 panels, including a carefully curated lineup guiding independent journalists toward success and informative sessions on how to cover aspects of the scientific revolution of genetics.

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Investigations put focus on infection control in dental offices

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: John Ong via Flickr

Two high-profile safety breaches have highlighted the importance of close adherence to infection control protocols in dental clinics and offices.

In both recent cases, patients have been advised to undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C due to possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

In Seattle and nearby Vashon Island, news broke in early April that nearly 1,300 students face infection risks because equipment used in school clinics was improperly sterilized. Ten school-based dental clinics operated by Neighborcare, a local health center have been impacted by the safety breach. Continue reading

Panel learns why there’s no easy fix for high drug prices

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJMartin Van Trieste

One of the best sessions at Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore was the panel discussion about drug prices on May 3, “Of price spikes and shortages: New initiatives to increase patient access to generic and biosimilar drugs.” Wendy Wolfson, an independent journalist from Irvine, Calif., moderated the discussion.

Perhaps the most interesting of the four panel members was Martin Van Trieste, president and CEO, Civica Rx, a nonprofit manufacturer of generic drugs for hospitalized patients. Seven of the nation’s largest health systems have invested in Civica and their representatives will serve on its board of directors along with representatives from three philanthropies: the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, and the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Continue reading

Brawley’s remarks open #AHCJ19 as 20th Health Journalism conference draws a record number of attendees

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJOtis Brawley kicked off Health Journalism 2019 with a nearly standing-room-only audience.

Otis Brawley has given a lot of thought lately to the socioeconomic factors that serve as predictors of health disparities among disadvantaged Americans.

Brawley, a Bloomberg distinguished professor at Johns Hopkins University, told a crowded room at Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore on Thursday that a community’s resources – or lack thereof – contributes mightily to the health outcomes of its residents.

That holds true, regardless of race, Brawley explained to attendees at the record-breaking health journalism conference. About 800 people are attending the Baltimore conference, the 20th annual training confab AHCJ has held. Continue reading

Panel to look at challenges of fighting superbugs

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.

Since antibiotics were widely introduced in the mid 1940’s, scientists warned of microbes’ innate ability to evolve and develop resistance. People were cautioned to be judicious with antimicrobials, because overuse could breed “superbugs,” germs resistant to most or all antibiotics.

Indeed, microbes have developed resistance to virtually every new class of antibiotics introduced. Up until the 1980s, however, most pharmaceutical companies kept developing new antibiotics. When a drug developed resistance, there was a new one in the development pipeline that could take its place. Continue reading

Can a HIPAA-enabled Amazon Alexa help patients at home?

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

Amazon’s recent announcement that its cloud-based voice service Alexa can support health care entities that are subject to the HIPAA federal patient privacy law offers some interesting story ideas for reporters.

The Alexa Healthcare Skills Kit program is invite-only. So far Amazon announced the launch of six Alexa skills built by health care entities, including Boston Children’s Hospital, Livongo, Providence Health and Services and Cigna. (You can see the full list of players and their projects at this Amazon blog post.) Continue reading