Len Bruzzese is the executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. He also is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and served for nearly 20 years in daily journalism.
AHCJ is excited to announce an offer for significantly discounted access to LexisNexis for association members. The offer, made possible in partnership with the Contently Foundation, a nonprofit organization for investigative reporting, will be of particular interest to AHCJ’s freelance members.
LexisNexis is a vital resource for all types of journalists and writers, but it’s particularly valuable for those covering health care in that it contains some 250 industry publications, including the American Journal of Law & Medicine, The American Journal of Surgery, The Lancet, Biotech Business, Modern Healthcare and Occupational Health. Continue reading →
Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.
Reporters covering the opioid crisis might want to look at state efforts to track opioid prescribing by physicians. State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases that gather information from pharmacies on controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs are potentially powerful disincentives for overprescribing, according to a recent study. Continue reading →
As anybody who follows the Reporting on Health blog knows, William Heisel’s virtual roadshow of physician background research has been gaining ridiculous amounts of steam lately. His Doctors Behaving Badly brand has taken on a life of its own, propelled by a Google Map he put together to place his findings into geographic context.
That geographic context has become the focus of his investigation, as Heisel has turned what was once a quirky little recurring item into a systematic, state-by-state way into how the public can check up on disciplined (or otherwise problematic) doctors. He’s almost reached the halfway point, and he’s reached some interesting conclusions. My favorite is that he doesn’t think states that have terrible sites with which to check up on doctors are being malicious, they’re just bad at making websites.
I think the problem lies in poor website design. A board starts with a simple site that allows people to see if a doctor has a valid license. Then that same board adds scanned documents from its disciplinary files, but instead of linking these two things together, it puts them in completely different parts of its site. When the board gets around to adding malpractice information or criminal histories, it layers those on top, too, instead of fully integrating them.
The effect is a stratified system of information that lets patients think their physicians have a clean history when, in fact, their records are simply too hard to find.
Heisel recently appeared on Fox News to explain what he’d found thus far.
On the whole, Heisel’s effort helps illuminate the power of my favorite online reporting tool: The progressively investigated database.
The original summit in 2006 made a similar recommendation to create a human injury database, which was paired with the recommendation that led to the Equine Injury Database, which now receives reports from 86 racetracks. Those racetracks represent more than four-fifths of thoroughbred flat races and all steeplechase races.
Gathering statistics on the timing, nature and cause of the injuries would be a huge step toward increasing jockey safety.
According to Jockeys’ Guild statistics, 128 riders have died since 1940 from injuries suffered on racetracks in the United States, The Courier-Journal reported in April. Currently, about 60 riders who suffered brain or spinal-cord injuries receive modest aid from the racing industry’s Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.