Category Archives: Patient safety

Finding stories in the looming primary care shortage

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Photo: Erin Keller via Flickr

One recent workday, I called my primary care physician’s office and immediately was transferred to voicemail. Usually, I’m perhaps the “fifth caller in queue,” or on a lucky day, the second caller. That day — probably because it was a Monday in winter and people were kicking off their week by calling the doctor — the perky robot voice told me that I was the 14th caller. I hung up, determined to call again later. Continue reading

Tip sheet helps journalists cover vaccine hesitancy responsibly

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.

Tara Haelle, AHCJ core topic leader on medical studies, contributed to this post.

Journalists have a tricky role when covering a public health issue like vaccine hesitancy and opposition. We have a responsibility to report medical facts, but we also want to tell stories of these facts playing out in real life – and we must avoid appearing as advocates or taking a “stance” on whether parents should vaccinate their children or not.

The medical evidence is clear – vaccines are safe and effective – but a small minority of people refuse, or remain unable, to accept medical evidence. Since that small minority can have a substantial impact on public health more broadly, journalists have to capture the micro and the macro while balancing storytelling with facts. Continue reading

Senate Finance Committee hearing focuses on nursing home abuse

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Compelling, heartbreaking stories of abuse and neglect from the daughters of two elderly women drove home a call for tighter regulations, better oversight and more careful screening of nursing home staff during a Senate Committee on Finance hearing on March 6. The hearing comes in the wake of another horrific story, when a woman in a 14-year coma at a long-term care facility in Arizona gave birth after being raped.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle expressed outrage over mistreatment, neglect and other serious violations at nursing homes, despite years of efforts to enact additional reforms and more government supervision. Continue reading

Experts talk in D.C. about how to get past the A.I. buzz

Tina Reed

About Tina Reed

Tina Reed is executive editor of FierceHealthcare in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was a health care reporter for the Washington Business Journal. She is co-chair of AHCJ’s Washington, D.C. Chapter.

Photo: Kimberly Leonard

Trying to write critically about a new use of artificial intelligence?

Start by asking your sources three questions:

  1. How far they are away from the point of delivery?
  2. How much data are they working with and what is the diversity or scope of the population the data was gathered from?
  3. And finally, what kinds of algorithms did they apply and what sorts of devices are they limited to using?

Continue reading

AHCJ unveils fellowships on women’s health

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The Association of Health Care Journalists and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health announced they will collaborate this year to present the first Fellowships on Women’s Health.

The program will allow a small group of journalists to spend several days in Washington, D.C., focused on increasing their understanding of and ability to report more deeply on health issues that are often unique to women or require a different approach.

“We are happy to get a chance to work with the Office on Women’s Health on this new program,” said Len Bruzzese, AHCJ’s executive director. “Along with a chance to dive into these important topics, our fellows will be exposed to reliable sources they can call upon later, develop skills for tapping into trustworthy source material when doing their own research and come away with lots of story ideas worth pursuing.”

Continue reading →

VA surgery database explanation available for medical research reporting

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet via Flickr

Surgery research can become complex very quickly: Not only are there the underlying conditions and demographics of each patient to consider, but also different characteristics particular to the procedure itself, the circumstances of the procedure, the institution and the providers doing the procedure.

If you frequently report on surgery studies, you may have covered a study that used data from the Veterans Affairs Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP).

Continue reading