As many of you know, it can be hard following an ongoing story – keeping up with the latest developments, looking ahead and staying ahead of the competition, finding the larger stories and putting it all into context.
Shannon Muchmore of The Tulsa World has been doing just that since the end of March, reporting on an investigation into a dentist whose clinics have been cited for multiple violations, many related to unsanitary practices. Hundreds of patients are being tested for HIV and hepatitis and officials say as many as 7,000 patients may have been exposed since 2007.
Amid a steady stream of stories, she took the time to share some of her insights into the complexities of the unfolding drama, including how her daily work life has changed, the level of risk faced by patients and some tips for other reporters.
It was worth the wait to attend one of the last sessions on the last day of Health Journalism 2013.
Data mining is one of those topics that can make the audience’s eyes glaze over, but the energy level in the room was high as the audience learned how two Boston Globe reporters used publicly accessible records to expose widespread overmedication of Massachusetts nursing home residents, resulting in a highly acclaimed front-page series.
Health reporter Kay Lazar led a panel which included her colleague, reporter Matt Carroll, and Patricia Fried, a consultant to lawyers investigating nursing home wrongdoing, subcontractor to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and experienced nursing home director.
Discovering the truth about nursing home residents’ quality of life can be challenging, Lazar said. However, once you understand what to look for and how to analyze the data, it unearths a wealth of information, and many potential story ideas. Much of the analysis conducted by Lazar and Carroll came from statements of deficiency (SOD) forms submitted to CMS by nursing home surveyors, also known as inspectors. Continue reading