Tag Archives: babies

Webcast will address employers’ efforts to reform labor and delivery services

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 an important series last year, ProPublica partnered with NPR to report on maternal deaths in the United States. In the ”Lost Mothers, Maternal Care and Preventable Death” series, ProPublica reporter Nina Martin, engagement reporter Adriana Gallardo and NPR special correspondent Renee Montagne, reported that for the past two decades maternal mortality has declined in other affluent countries while the rate of maternal deaths has been rising in the United States. Here’s a link to NPR’s companion site, “Lost Mothers: Maternal Mortality in the United States.

Today, 700 to 900 American women die during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, the highest rate in the developed world, they reported. Continue reading

Homeopathic teething tablets under fire

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: Ashley Webb via Flickr

Photo: Ashley Webb via Flickr

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week confirmed that laboratory tests found elevated levels of belladonna in samples of homeopathic teething tablets. The FDA urged parents and caregivers to stop giving children the products and safely dispose of any remaining tablets.

Belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, is a toxic substance and products containing it cause unnecessary health risks for young children, the agency warned in its Jan. 27 announcement. Continue reading

ProPublica offers a state-by-state look at pregnancy and drug laws

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.

Photo by mahalie stackpole via Flickr.

Photo by mahalie stackpole via Flickr.

There have been a lot of gripping tales of late highlighting the impact of the nation’s soaring heroin epidemic, especially on children and infants.

They’re all important – if tough – reads, but what really caught my eye recently was a separate but related resource package circulated by ProPublica, which details state laws regarding women whose newborn babies test positive for certain drugs. While authorities may be increasingly focused on the issue, the project looks not only at the wide variance of rules across state and even county lines, but how laws already on the books can have unintended consequences and disproportionately affect poor women. Continue reading

Use national statistics to localize findings, dig for enterprise stories

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.

FreeImages.com/Shannon Pifko

FreeImages.com/Shannon Pifko

The National Center for Health Statistics published the latest data on 2014 births last month, and these reports can be unexpected gold mines for enterprise reporting.

The reports themselves are very dry – literally just the most recent statistics available on a particular data set with little to no analysis. However, that means most journalists will be reporting just that – the data without much analysis – while others can take some time to compare the numbers to past reports and look for trends. Continue reading

Babies or bust? What new data on millennial birth rates means for the future

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.

Photo: H is for Home via Flickr

Photo: H is for Home via Flickr

It’s no secret that raising children is an expensive proposition. But for millennials, who entered adulthood during the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, the 2007-09 recession appears to have done a double-whammy on their decision to enter parenthood.

A recent study by the Urban Institute found that women in their 20s had fewer babies amid the soft economy than those in previous decades. And while it is still too early to know whether they will “catch up” by having children later, the paper written by Nan Marie Astone, Steven Martin and H. Elizabeth Peters raises questions about the implications such a population dip both can have not only on U.S. families but also upward mobility and society. Continue reading

Baby’s death illustrates how health IT can introduce complexity, error to system

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Chicago Tribune reporters Judith Graham and Cynthia Dizikes explore the pitfalls of health information technology through the story of an infant boy who survived despite being born months early and weighing just 1.5 pounds, only to be killed by a sodium chloride overdose when a pharmacy tech entered information into the wrong field of his electronic medical record.

health-it

Photo by Christiana Care via Flickr

The tech’s fatal clerical error was compounded by disabled alarms on a compounding machine, incorrect labeling on an IV bag and an ignored lab test. The heart of the errors, the reporters write, seems to be that all the different systems involved don’t communicate.

Almost all medication requests at Advocate are transmitted by a doctor’s keystroke to the hospital pharmacy’s drug-dispensing system. But in this case, there was no electronic connection with the automated compounding system that prepared the IV bag for baby Burkett, a specialized device that handles low-volume, highly individualized orders.

So a technician transcribed the order by hand, and an error was introduced.

Electronic communication gaps are common at large hospitals, which typically use upward of 50 to 100 different information systems at their facilities, with different technologies used in emergency rooms, labs, pharmacies and other medical departments, said Ross Koppel, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies health information technologies.

“To some degree these systems talk to each other, but mostly they don’t, so hospitals have to design custom-made software ‘bridges’ to make this happen,” Koppel said. With each jury-rigged software solution comes the potential for new software bugs, transcription errors and other problems.