Tag Archives: investigative

Freelance investigative reporting may not be easy, but it’s possible

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.

Investigative reporting is not easy as a freelance journalist, but it’s not impossible either.

The Health Journalism 2019 session on investigative reporting for freelancers on Saturday revealed tips, resources and success stories to inspire freelancers to dig deeper into those suspicions they have about a story — and the hundreds or thousands of documents that it likely involves. Continue reading

When pursuing investigative pieces, Wall Street Journal reporter suggests getting legal advice early

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.

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJWall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou spoke about his award-winning investigation of Theranos at Health Journalism 2018.

One of the highlights of Health Journalism 2018 in Phoenix last month was John Carreyrou’s presentation about his work covering the much-troubled Theranos Inc., a Silicon Valley lab testing company that has been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In 2015, Carreyrou won first place in beat reporting in AHCJ’s Excellence in Health Care Journalism awards for his coverage of Theranos.

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Military slow to treat mild traumatic brain injury

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.

ProPublica‘s T. Christian Miller and NPR‘s Daniel Zwerdling have found unpublished military documents which indicate that tens of thousands of soliders who suffer from mild traumatic brain injury have gone undiagnosed.

dentistPhoto by isafmedia via Flickr

These are in addition to the 115,000 soldiers known to suffer from such injuries, many of which are inflicted by shock waves caused by roadside bombs. They write that the lack of concern shown by top brass for mild traumatic brain injuries was “a reflection of ambivalence about these wounds at the highest levels.”

“It’s obvious that we are significantly underestimating and underreporting the true burden of traumatic brain injury,” said Maj. Remington Nevin, an Army epidemiologist who served in Afghanistan and has worked to improve documentation of TBIs and other brain injuries. “This is an issue which is causing real harm. And the senior levels of leadership that should be responsible for this issue either don’t care, can’t understand the problem due to lack of experience, or are so disengaged that they haven’t fixed it.”

After a thorough review, one not helped by a top medical official’s early attempts to prevent local medical commanders from responding to the reporters, the duo distilled their findings into three bullet points:

  • From the battlefield to the home front, the military’s doctors and screening systems routinely miss brain trauma in soldiers. One of its tests fails to catch as many as 40 percent of concussions, a recent unpublished study concluded. A second exam, on which the Pentagon has spent millions, yields results that top medical officials call about as reliable as a coin flip.
  • Even when military doctors diagnose head injuries, that information often doesn’t make it into soldiers’ permanent medical files. Handheld medical devices designed to transmit data have failed in the austere terrain of the war zones. Paper records from Iraq and Afghanistan have been lost, burned or abandoned in warehouses, officials say, when no one knew where to ship them.
  • Without diagnosis and official documentation, soldiers with head wounds have had to battle for appropriate treatment. Some received psychotropic drugs instead of rehabilitative therapy that could help retrain their brains. Others say they have received no treatment at all, or have been branded as malingerers.

Read the full investigation at ProPublica or NPR. It’s some of the deepest work on the subject we’ve seen thus far, and includes incredible quotes such as “What’s the harm in missing the diagnosis of mTBI?” as well as graphics and an explanation of why the numbers are so fuzzy.