Afghan media workers in peril as U.S. withdraws; IFJ and others raising money to help

About Andrew Smiley

Andrew Smiley is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, and an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. Smiley comes to AHCJ from a sports broadcasting background, including nearly a decade at the Golf Channel/NBC Sports and a decade at ESPN, where he won an Emmy.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has been watching the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan over the past several weeks with great concern for the Afghan people and particularly our fellow journalists and media workers. 

Along with major news organizations that have employed local journalists and based their U.S. staffers in Afghanistan, a number of organizations are working to evacuate journalists from this dangerous situation.

One of them is the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which has a fund to help remove journalists from deadly situations. IFJ is one of 50 organizations that has asked the G7 to support the safe removal of Afghan media workers from the country and ease their entry into countries of refuge. Continue reading

Right to Know Committee resumes talks with HHS media office, affirms appeals process

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.

Right To KnowIf you’re having problems getting information from a federal health agency, don’t give up: You might have recourse within the government.

The new assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Sarah Lovenheim, has recently reaffirmed an appeals process that AHCJ negotiated several years ago.

It works like this: If you can’t get what you need at the agency level, appeal to the HHS deputy secretary who oversees media affairs for that agency. (Details on how to do this are below.)

In a conversation with Sabriya Rice, vice chair of the Right to Know Committee, and me, Lovenheim agreed that reporters should get in touch with the deputy secretaries if they need help. Continue reading

Building trust first helped journalist report on COVID-19 in prisons

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo by SoulRider.222 via Flickr.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on prison populations, where there have been almost 400,000 positive cases across the country and 2,700 inmates have died.

Lisa Armstrong has been delving into the spread of COVID-19 and its painful impact. She has been supported in her work through grants from Type Investigations, The Carter Center and the Fund for Investigative Journalism/Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. She has written about the spread of the coronavirus in New York state prisons and Miami jails and produced a documentary for CBS News about the role mental health care provided by for-profit companies has played in an increase in suicides in state prisons. Continue reading

Use of term ‘low value’ may leave Black, Latinx patients with questions about access to care

About Kerry Dooley Young

Kerry Dooley Young (@kdooleyyoung) is AHCJ's core topic leader on patient safety. She has written extensively about the Food and Drug Administration, medical research, health policy and quality measurements. Her work has appeared in Medscape Medical News, Congressional Quarterly/CQ Roll Call and Bloomberg News.

Alyna Chien

Alyna Chien

Editor’s note: This is the second of two articles on reframing the debate about low-benefit treatments. Part one published on Thursday, August 19.

The legacy of racism in medicine may make patients wary of physicians who attempt to dissuade them from treatments and tests considered likely to offer little or no benefit, according to the authors of a May article in Health Affairs, “Time To Set Aside The Term ‘Low-Value Care’ — Focus On Achieving High-Value Care For All.”

Better to scrap the term “low-value care” and start over with language emphasizing the need for equitable access to care and treatment of Black and Latino people, wrote the authors, Danielle J. Brooks, director for health equity at AmeriHealth Caritas; Carmen E. Reyes, the community outreach director for the UCLA Value-Based Care Research Consortium, and Alyna T. Chien, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Continue reading

Study estimates how often people on Medicare may be harmed by ‘low-value’ care

About Kerry Dooley Young

Kerry Dooley Young (@kdooleyyoung) is AHCJ's core topic leader on patient safety. She has written extensively about the Food and Drug Administration, medical research, health policy and quality measurements. Her work has appeared in Medscape Medical News, Congressional Quarterly/CQ Roll Call and Bloomberg News.

The conceptual map demonstrates that an overused service can lead directly to short- and long-term negative consequences for patients. This appeared in the article, “Development of a Conceptual Map of Negative Consequences for Patients of Overuse of Medical Tests and Treatments,” JAMA Internal Medicine, October 2018. It is reproduced here with permission of JAMA Internal Medicine.

It’s easy to understand the economic arguments against exposing people to medical treatments and tests that many experts say are unlikely to help them. But it’s been tougher to quantify medical reasons for avoiding what researchers call “low value” care.

A paper published July 23 in JAMA Health Forum may bring more clarity to the discussion.

About 1% of admissions for certain procedures widely considered to be of low value were linked to subsequent complications such as infections, foreign objects left in patients, falls and bedsores, wrote the authors of this paper, “Adverse events and hospital-acquired conditions associated with potential low-value care in Medicare beneficiaries.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate hospital-acquired harms for U.S. Medicare beneficiaries associated with low-value care,” the authors wrote. Continue reading