Category Archives: Patient safety

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

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.

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

Can agencies stop employees from talking to media? Brechner Center says no 

Madeline Laguaite

About Madeline Laguaite

Madeline Laguaite (@MLaguaite) is pursuing her master’s degree in health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia. Her area of interest is stories about LGBTQ health and mental health.

Public employees have the right to speak to the press without going through the boss, but workplace gag orders continue to violate their freedom of speech, says a report from The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, a nonprofit educational center.

The findings could have particular implications for health care journalists, the center’s director says.

Federal, state or local agencies often impose policies that restrict an employee’s ability to speak with reporters. In a report released in October that examines employees’ First Amendment rights, the center urges news organizations to challenge those rules. Continue reading

CDC finds ‘chemical of concern’ in vaping-relating illness investigation

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.

Vitamin E acetate, a common additive to dietary supplements and cosmetics, has been identified as a likely culprit in a national outbreak of deaths and serious illnesses traced to vaping.

Researchers tested fluid samples from the lungs of 29 patients with e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) that were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Continue reading

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

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.

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

AHCJ joins groups urging Congress to address communication between journalists and federal agencies

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has joined the Society of Professional Journalists and 25 other journalism and open government groups in urging every member of Congress to support unimpeded communication with journalists for all federal employees.

“It is essential to public welfare and democracy that this issue is addressed. Not allowing experts to speak freely to reporters is authoritarian and keeps sources from explaining a variety of things that are the public’s business,” the groups say in a letter sent to Congress members today.

“This ‘Censorship by PIO’ works in tandem with other assaults on free speech including restrictions on public records, threats and physical assaults on reporters, prosecution of whistleblowers and threats of prosecution against reporters.”

Many groups in the coalition of organizations have been working for several years to spark changes in the restrictions put on federal employees and the lack of freedom to speak to journalists. For more than a decade, AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee has pressed federal officials to improve journalists’ access to federal experts.

Continue reading 

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

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.

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