Fresh sources for a potentially severe flu season

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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases launched their annual influenza vaccine campaign on Sept. 26 as reports are emerging that Americans may be facing a severe season this winter.

Flu season in the U.S. officially begins Oct. 1 and emergency room doctors have anecdotally reported that they are starting to see more people arriving in hospitals with the flu and two people in California, including a 4-year-old child have already died from the flu. Continue reading

Trump riffs on health at campaign rally

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Classic Film via Flickr

President Donald Trump has pledged to unveil a new plan to repeal and replace the ACA – but we haven’t seen it, and it’s not clear that we ever will.  If the president does announce a plan, it’s to campaign on in 2020, not to try to enact before the November elections with a Democratic-controlled House and a divided Senate.

There’s no way to know how the Ukraine scandal will factor into health care and domestic policy. Trump may focus on impeachment and politics to the exclusion of health care – or he may try to change the subject with some kind of health platform. Continue reading

Listen up: AHCJ compiles list of health-related podcasts

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.

The universe of podcasts is expanding, with a growing array of choices for health and science journalists eager to absorb new topics, inspiration and trends in storytelling.

Some podcasts focus on a single topic, unfolding a dramatic storyline in a series that has already debuted but is timeless and still worth listening to.

Others are up-to-date with new episodes being produced on a regular basis. Continue reading

IG report: Some states fall short on oversight of surgery centers

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.

Photo: Hospital UTPL via Flickr

Here’s a somewhat worrisome report from the Office of Inspector General.  Some two-thirds of the ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the nation are supposed to be surveyed for quality and safety issues by their state health agency, according to Medicare rules. But a troubling number of states seem to be ignoring their responsibility.

Since Medicare reimburses ASCs for certain approved procedures — including some that carry higher risks for complications — federal officials have set requirements for how often and how extensively those state agencies are supposed to inspect those facilities.  One could argue, and many have, that stricter standards should be put into place, but this report is just about the compliance of the ones that do exist. Continue reading

Fellows chosen for 2019 National Cancer Reporting Fellowships

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.

Ten journalists have been chosen for the 2019 class of the National Cancer Reporting Fellowships. AHCJ will be presenting the fellowships with expertise from the National Cancer Institute and others. The program is being supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The fellows will spend four days on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to increase their understanding of and ability to report accurately on complex scientific findings, provide insight into the work of cancer researchers and to better localize cancer-related stories.

Continue reading 

Could financial conflicts be influencing cancer care guidelines?

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: Hloom Templates via Flickr

Physicians in all fields of medicine rely on guidelines developed by professional medical organizations to inform how they care for patients. These guidelines, whether defining what counts as hypertension or laying out how best to care for pregnant women, constitute the standard of care in that particular field. To call them influential is a huge understatement.

Since most of these guidelines discuss treatments, it’s reasonable to pay attention to whether those writing the guidelines might have a bias for or against a particular treatment that’s not based on evidence. It’s impossible to be certain of this for all guideline authors, but ensuring they aren’t receiving big checks from industry is one way to guard against bias. Continue reading