Tag Archives: do no harm

‘Do No Harm’ team captures another award

AHCJ member Marshall Allen and Alex Richards have won the investigative reporting category in the 2010 Scripps Howard Awards for the series they did for the Las Vegas Sun.

The Ursula and Gilbert Farfel Prize, given in cooperation with Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and the Farfel Endowment, carries $15,000 in prize money.

Allen, now at ProPublica, was a health reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, where he and Richards reported the series  about preventable errors in hospitals, for which they reviewed 2.9 million records. The pair also received the 2011 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

The award-winning series was partially completed while Allen was on an AHCJ Media Fellowship on Health Performance. The fellowship program, supported by The Commonwealth Fund, has assisted four reporters since last summer on significant projects exploring health systems. Allen’s focus for his fellowship year is on exploring whether transparency about hospital quality improves the quality of care for patients. In 2009, he was an AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellow.

He won second place in beat reporting in the 2007 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. In 2008, he took third place in the medium newspaper category and second place in the limited report category. In the 2009 awards, he won first place in the beat reporting category.

Allen, who serves on AHCJ’s Finance and Development Committee, has contributed tip sheets and articles to the organization’s resources, including:

Documentary exposes hospital billing practices

Do No Harm, a documentary that focuses on questionable billing practices at a nonprofit hospital in Georgia, premiered last month and will soon be screened in several more cities around the country. Its subjects aim to bring national attention to what they see as “corrupt” hospital billing strategies.phoebe-sign

The film, directed by Rebecca Schanberg and supported by Chicago nonprofit the Kindling Group, follows two whistleblowers who uncovered a tax-exempt hospital’s aggressive billing practices toward the uninsured. Their actions prompted dozens of class action lawsuits filed on behalf of uninsured patients across the country. AHCJ member Andy Miller makes a cameo appearance in the documentary and was spotted in the audience at the Chicago premier.

There, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called the documentary “stranger than fiction,” Alex Parker reported in the Chi Town Daily News. Madigan was quick to draw parallels to her own state.

“In the absence of laws to protect health care consumers from overly aggressive billing and collection practices, many Illinois hospitals employed strategies similar to those at Phoebe Putney,” said Madigan, a leader in the state’s efforts to curb expensive billing practices.