Application period opens for AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance

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 is accepting applications for the 2020 AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance. The program, in its 10th year, is meant to help journalists understand and report on the performance of local health care markets and the U.S. health system as a whole.

The fellowship program, supported by The Commonwealth Fund, is intended to give experienced print, broadcast and online reporters an opportunity to pursue significant projects in 2020 that concentrate on the performance of health care systems – or significant parts of those systems – locally, regionally or nationally. The fellows are able to examine policies, practices and outcomes, as well as the roles of various stakeholders.

Past projects have included in-depth examinations of a state mental health care system, state attempts at Medicaid expansion, maternal mortality, how states handle opioid addiction and treatment, what leads some rural hospitals to fail while others survive and more.

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Vitamin K deficiency linked to risk of mobility loss in older adults

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.

Photo: Víctor Hugo Hernández D. via Flickr

Here’s another reason to eat your broccoli: It’s a great source of Vitamin K that may help decrease the risk of mobility loss and independence.

A recent study from Tufts University found that low circulating levels of this vitamin are tied to an increased risk of mobility limitation and disability in older adults. Older adults with low circulating vitamin K levels were nearly 1.5 times more likely to develop mobility limitations and nearly twice as likely to develop mobility disability compared with those showing sufficient levels, regardless of gender. Continue reading

Fellow journalists remember NY Times’ David Corcoran

Lindy Washburn

About Lindy Washburn

Lindy Washburn (lindywa) is a health care reporter for Gannett NJ, NorthJersey.com and The Record.

David Corcoran, right, listens to a story pitch from independent journalist Heather Boerner during AHCJ’s Freelance PitchFest at Health Journalism 2014 in Denver.

David Corcoran, who as editor of the New York Times’s weekly science section was a fixture at  AHCJ’s annual Freelance PitchFest, died Aug. 4 at his home in New Mexico.  The cause of death was leukemia, said his wife, Bonnie Stetson. He was 72.

Corcoran was a well-loved editor during 26 years at the Times. He moved there after nearly two decades at The Record in northern New Jersey, where he wrote an opinion column and edited the editorial page. At the Times, he ascended quickly, starting as a copy editor and eventually working on the weekend, OpEd, graphics, New Jersey and education desks before leading the Science Times section, from which he retired in 2014. Continue reading

Dentists urged to reduce prescriptions of pre-treatment antibiotics

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.

Clostridioides difficile

Across America, dentists write about 10% of all antibiotic prescriptions, data show, making them the top specialty prescribers of antibiotics in the U.S. one recent year.

But do the benefits of all these prescriptions outweigh their potential for harm? Amid concerns about antibiotic resistance – and the spread of Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that causes antibiotic-associated colitis – researchers are saying “no.” Continue reading

How a journalist overcame challenges of covering antibiotic resistance

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 the dawn of antibiotics, there has been antibiotic resistance. Until about 20 years ago, this threat remained muted because there were plenty of new antibiotics in the pipeline to replace those that had stopped working.

Today, there are fewer than 50 antimicrobials in the pipeline, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. Resistant bacteria, meanwhile, are slowly but surely spreading across the planet. If nothing changes, British think tank the Wellcome Trust, estimates that 10 million people will die annually from a resistant microbe by 2050. Continue reading

Opioid epidemic: Focus turns to how dentists are treating pain

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: ME via Flickr

While oral health and dentist-use are generally similar in United States and England, U.S dentists write 37 times as many opioid prescriptions as their English counterparts, according to a newly published study.

The findings, reported in May in JAMA Network Open, highlight an ongoing concern about the prescribing habits of US health practitioners and how they may be contributing to America’s epidemic of opioid abuse. Continue reading