Tag Archives: #ahcj15

President’s Corner: Stark reflects on conference, latest AHCJ developments

Photo: Kris Hickman/AHCJAbraham Verghese

Photo: Kris Hickman/AHCJAbraham Verghese

Health Journalism 2015 made me smarter.

I’ll give two examples. First, there was the pleasure of listening to Abraham Verghese, physician and master storyteller, who works in the heart of Silicon Valley, the foundry of disruption, and is quite up to date.

But he also believes in the touch and the rituals of the physical exam. He insisted that we not discard the old values when we take up new gadgets. And he talked about how compassionate listening is a sublime thing and part of the ritual of being a doctor.

Listening is part of the ritual of being a journalist too, which probably explains why his talk was so inspiring.

Another highlight was listening to independent journalist Heather Boerner talk about how she crowd-sourced funding for her book, “Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory Over HIV.” Boerner wrote 9,000 words for a $100 assignment. (There is a diagnosis for this: It’s called “journalism.”)

Read more …

Illnesses, injuries linked to medical devices a ripe area for investigation #ahcj15

CDC/ James ArcherAn outbreak of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) was linked to dirty duodenoscopes.

CDC/ James ArcherAn outbreak of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) was linked to dirty duodenoscopes.

Most medical devices marketed in the United States do not need formal approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Members of a panel at Health Journalism 2015 on medical device coverage provided a variety of advice for reporters covering and of the implants, instruments and diagnostic tools common to the modern medical machine.

Moderator of the session was Chad Terhune, a Los Angeles Times reporter who recently found himself chasing an outbreak of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) linked to dirty duodenoscopes. Contributing to the discussion were panelists USA Today investigative reporter Peter Eisler and Scott Lucas, associate director of accident and forensic investigation at the ECRI Institute. Continue reading

Health journalists gathered for training, networking in Silicon Valley #ahcj15

Health Journalism 2015Nearly 700 people attended Health Journalism 2015, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists. The gathering, in California’s Silicon Valley in late April, provided journalists with expert speakers and panels on everything from hospital quality to a press briefing with the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a kickoff speech that many attendees talked about throughout the conference, Stanford physician and author Abraham Verghese, M.D., offered an eloquent description about the importance of how doctors care for patients. Continue reading

From #ahcj15 back to the beat: Covering disparities in health

At a conference, it all seems easy. So many ideas, so many enthusiastic colleagues, so many potential stories.


Kris Hickman/AHCJ Lisa Aliferis, editor of KQED-San Francisco’s health blog, asks a question after hearing from physician and bestselling author Abraham Verghese, M.D., on the opening night of Health Journalism 2015.

With nearly four days packed with sessions, there’s no shortage of new contacts, resources and data. But now what?

Where should reporters start in trying to dissect their material into something usable, especially when it comes to the great wide territory of social determinants and health care? Continue reading

Panelists urge journalists to report on how vaccines save lives #ahcj15

Pia Christensen/AHCJRebecca Plevin, a health reporter at KPCC Southern California Public Radio, includes in her stories the fact that there’s no scientific evidence backing up claims that vaccines are harmful.

As a measles outbreak late last year spread from Disneyland to seven U.S. states affecting at least 147 people, one news organization on the front lines of the story made a deliberate decision about how to handle stories related to vaccines.

“Like climate change, there aren’t two sides to this story,” said Rebecca Plevin, a health reporter for KPCC Southern California Public Radio, referring to the fact that in both cases there’s no dispute over the science. There are not two sets of facts when it comes to vaccines, she said.

Plevin’s remarks came during a panel about vaccines at Health Journalism 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif.

When she’s doing stories about vaccine-preventable diseases or parents’ qualms about giving vaccines, Plevin now talks about the proven benefits of vaccines. If parents talk about diverting from recommended vaccine schedules or say they have fears that vaccines harm children, Plevin and her co-workers include a statement that there’s no scientific evidence backing up claims that vaccines are harmful. Continue reading