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.
It’s no secret that even insured patients sometimes are unable to cover the full cost of their care. When that happens, some people turn to medical funding companies for help. Physicians and other providers sometimes will even refer patients to these entities, which are set up to pay the provider and then collect from the patient.
There can be problems with this option, as journalists Alison Frankel and Jessica Dye learned last year in an investigation of unscrupulous medical funding companies. Continue reading
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to face a lawsuit over a story you’ve written, you’ll want to read how Ron Shinkman responded when a source threatened to sue.
The editor and publisher of Payers & Providers, a newsletter in Los Angeles, Shinkman got the phone call we all dread. On the line that day in March 2012 was Jeannette Martello, MD.., a plastic surgeon Shinkman had covered when the California Department of Managed Health Care enjoined her from balance billing her patients.
Associated Press Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner reports that almost 2,000 doctors have signed up for a service providing waivers barring patients who sign them from posting on online doctor-rating sites like Angie’s List and RateMDs.com.
North Carolina neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Segal’s firm, Medical Justice, gives paying doctors waiver forms to give patients and alerts them when a review appears online. Medical Justice allows doctors to use signed waiver forms to then have the offending comments removed, which he said had been done in “several instances.”
Some sites “are little more than tabloid journalism without much interest in constructively improving practices,” and their sniping comments can unfairly ruin a doctor’s reputation, Segal said.
Segal said such postings say nothing about what should really matter to patients — a doctor’s medical skills — and privacy laws and medical ethics prevent leave doctors powerless to do anything it.
According to Tanner, the co-founder of RateMDs.com said he refuses to take comments down when confronted with a signed waiver. Northwestern University Internet law specialist and attorney Jim Speta questioned the effectiveness of such waivers, Tanner said.
“Courts might say the balance of power between doctors and patients is very uneven” and that patients should be able to give feedback on their doctors’ performance, Speta said.