Category Archives: Hospitals

Mississippi journalist’s reporting leads medical center to change billing practices

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.

In April, Anna Wolfe, who covers health care for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, started reporting on what appeared to be staggeringly high bills for using the emergency room at the Batson Children’s Hospital, in Jackson. The hospital is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the only academic medical center in the state.

Parents who brought their children to the ER were being charged thousands of dollars in unreasonable emergency room facility fees that do not match the level of care received, Wolfe reports. Since that article was published April 15, Wolfe has continued to cover the complex ways the hospital calculates its charges. In the bills Wolfe reviewed, the hospital adds facility fees for ER visits, fees that are based on the level of care administered. Continue reading

New site gives access to nonprofit hospital financial data

Len Bruzzese

About Len Bruzzese

Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and served for nearly 20 years in daily journalism.

The Association of Health Care Journalists today unveiled hospitalfinances.org, a website that offers free, searchable financial information on nonprofit hospitals across the United States.

The aim is to make nonprofit hospital finances easier to access, search and analyze. This effort follows years of training by AHCJ to encourage journalists and the public to use nonprofit hospital filings and learn more about hospitals. Continue reading

What to ask hospitals about medical device hacking preparedness

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.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJMay Wang, chief technology officer at cybersecurity firm Zingbox, said that connected medical devices often are not used efficiently.

It’s only a matter of time before a patient is harmed through medical device hacking, and journalists have many resources to probe whether their local health providers are able to prevent or respond to such an event, said a panel of experts at Health Journalism 2018 in Phoenix.

To date, there are no documented cases of patients harmed by medical device hacking, said panel moderator and independent journalist Mark Taylor. But reporters should be asking their local hospitals about this specific cybersecurity threat. Continue reading

Have a plan before tragic news breaks, Las Vegas reporter says

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Rachel Crosby, a metro reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reviewed her Twitter feed from her coverage of the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas as part of her talk for Health Journalism 2018. The panel, “Finding organization in the chaos of mass violence,” offered a look at how journalists and health systems prepare and respond to mass tragedies.

Reporters everywhere increasingly must cover mass violence and other chaotic situations, and should make a plan before any news erupts, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Rachel Crosby told attendees at Health Journalism 2018.

Whether it’s a mass shooting, disease outbreak, natural disaster or other major event – take time now to figure out how your newsroom would report on it and how you can be best prepared, Crosby, a former crime reporter now on the metro desk, said at AHCJ’s annual conference in Phoenix. Continue reading

In race between bugs and drugs, the bugs are pulling ahead

Victoria Colliver

About Victoria Colliver

Victoria Colliver (@vcolliver) is Politico Pro’s California-based health care reporter. Previously, she wrote about the health industry and medicine for the San Francisco Chronicle since 2001. Prior to the Chronicle, she worked for the San Francisco Examiner and the Oakland Tribune.

Photo: Francisco Bengoa via Flickr

PHOENIX – To picture a future in which antibiotics no longer work, all we have to do is look at the past – at the United States before the 1940s when simple infections accounted for a third of all deaths.

“When an antibiotic resistance develops anywhere, it’s a threat to people everywhere,” said Elizabeth Jungman, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ public health programs, speaking at a panel on Friday at Health Journalism 2018 that painted a chilling but prescient view of what could happen if and when antibiotics stop working, and we don’t have enough new drugs in the pipeline. “We know what a post-antibiotic world could look like because we lived in a pre-antibiotic world.” Continue reading